Govt contests Census credibility
Their Job Is To Only Enumerate People: Jora
Srinagar, May 1: The State Government on Tuesday contested the credibility of the Census department figures about lack of infrastructure in the Tourism sector saying the latter has no mandate on the matter.
“The job of Census department is only to enumerate people,” said Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora. He was responding to the figures by Census department last month that of more than 33 lakh occupied houses in JK only 0.2 percent of them are in the Tourism sector in form of hotels/guest houses and lodges.
“They must be doing some hunky-dory exercise for themselves. It is the job of the players in the private sector, not government to build the sector in terms of accommodation facility,” Jora said. He said government was providing private players the subsidy for promoting the sector.
To another question by Greater Kashmir that Census department has questioned government claims about development in the Tourism sector, Jora said: “Go and write whatever you want to. I don’t care.” He then dropped the phone.
A senior official in the Census Department said job of the Department is not only to enumerate people but also to postmortem the development claims of the government.
The official, wishing not to be named, said it is only on the basis of the Census data, which is concerned to be most credible, that state Governments get an insight of progress/backwardness of areas, people, different sectors, execution of various development schemes, economic scenario. “It is a known fact that Census data forms base for governments to plan development over a decade,” he said.
About accommodation facility in the sector, the official said while JK last year received a record over 12 lakh tourists it has only 7473 lodging facilities. “It is too less for a state which has a vast tourism potential,” the official said.
Joint Chief Principal Census Officer, JK, CS Saproo said as per census the neighboring Himachal Pradesh has 2588018 occupied houses out of which the percentage of accommodation facility in the sector is 0.3 percent - 0.1 percent more compared to JK.
Even Haryana and Punjab has good infrastructure in Tourism sector compared to J&K. In Kashmir only the summer capital Srinagar has high percentage, 0.6, of the occupied houses in the sector compared to state level figures of 0.2 percent while in some other Valley districts the infrastructure is far below the state level, the Census figures revealed.
A senior Tourism Department official analyzed the lack of infrastructure in the sector, “For many years the State Government sat over developing the (tourism) industry especially in Kashmir,” he said. “The Census has only brought to fore the picture which was there for years craving for attention.”
He said as far as budget and economic tourists are concerned the infrastructure problem is less acute. “But we do have a serious problem of infrastructure for high end tourists,” he said.
The Tourism department is expecting a record tourist arrival to Kashmir this season.
President Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association, Faiz Bakshi said Kashmir has around 50,000- bed capacity in private sector at tourist places like Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg.
“While there is 5000 bed capacity in A-class category in the Valley, the figures are more in other classes- B, C, D, E and others.
In lesser explored tourist destinations like Sonamarg, Yousmarg and Doodpathri, the infrastructure in terms accommodation facility and road connectivity is dismal.
Bakshi said Government’s blanket ban on expansion of the tourism infrastructure or renovation of the existing infrastructure was another problem.
Government has been arguing that allowing expansion of the infrastructure or its renovation at the places will have an impact on Valley’s environment which is fast deteriorating.
“We appreciate the concern but a balance has to be there to keep the tourism industry alive,” said Bakshi. “The problem is that JK does not have a definite tourism policy like in neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh.”
Deputy Chairman, J&K Tourism Alliance, Nasir Shah said infrastructure building in tourism sector and protection of environment should go side by side.
“The infrastructure is there but it needs up-gradation,” he said. “But the growth of tourism industry should not be at the cost of fragile environment of Kashmir.”
He said government should come up with a policy for allowing fixed number of tourists to Kashmir keeping in view the conservation of environment. “We can follow countries like Bhutan where government and the stakeholders in the sector themselves discourage the influx beyond a fixed target,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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