When jute wall stood between PM AND SIRAJ BAGH
Srinagar, June 8: Since the regime of first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahir Lal Nehru, the Nehru Guesthouse on the foothills of Zabarwan, owing to its picturesque locale, has been the hangout for the top dignitaries visiting Srinagar. But Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh seems to be the first top visitor who couldn’t get the panoramic view of the gardens en-route the palatial lodge.
But the reasons weren’t any security measures. The area, as per officials, is walled so that only those who pay the entry fee of Rs 50 get the gaze.
The picturesque view along the Cheshma Shahi Road leading to the Nehru Guesthouse –having mesmerised millions of visitors since the Mughal era, is blocked for the past over a year.
During his two day stay in the City, the Prime Minister is learnt to have taken the same route to the magnificent Nehru Guesthouse.
But like every other visitor on the road, Dr Singh couldn’t have the view of the gardens.
The Directorate of Floriculture has been maintaining that the view was blocked for commercial reasons: they want to keep the Tulip, and Botanical gardens away from the sight of those who can’t pay the entry fee.
A 10-feet tall wall of jute matting has been raised along the fencing of the twin gardens in the heels of Zaberwan hills. The wall has been painted green restricting the view of the landscaped gardens spanning over some 1600 kanals.
Even though the walling has drawn flak from various quarters, particularly the Tourism experts, the Floriculture department has been reluctant to remove the barrier.
The department defends the blockade saying it facilitates generation of more revenue as visitors get curious to see what’s inside.
And given the flat price tag of Rs 50 as entry fee, the department claims to have earned millions of rupees as revenue. The department has another argument: “Beauty has a value in concealment. Exposing it makes it lose the value.”
The same went true during the PM’s visit.
This has irked the observers. Heritage expert and former Director General of Tourism Muhammad Salim Baig who has been opposing the move said it was unfortunate that the authorities are reluctant to shed their move of getting the view blocked.
“The locale with historic significance dating back to Mughal era has lost its grandeur because of the anti-aesthetic blockade,” Baig told Greater Kashmir.
“Nowhere in the world has any place taken such tourism-envy measures,” he added.
But the Floriculture department officials believe that the issue shouldn’t be reported any further as matter has come to news in the past.
“We stand by what we have said earlier. There’s nothing new to be made news of. Why repeat the story again and again?” Director Floriculture, Sarwar Naqash argued.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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