Kashmir missed IT bus in 1990: Azad

‘Valley Safest Tourist Destination’

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Nov 20: Senior AICC leader and Union Minister for Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad Tuesday said Kashmir lost the “golden opportunity” of becoming an Information Technology (IT) hub due to eruption of militancy in 1990 as Bangalore grabbed the opportunity.
He also said that Kashmir was safest tourist destination among all states of India as crime rate here is “almost zero” despite 20 years of strife.
Addressing the seminar on “Sustainable Tourism — Environment and Infrastructure” at SKICC here, Azad said; “Not only peace, but complete peace prevails in Kashmir”.  “Small things are at times blown out of proportion. But I don’t blame media for that as there has been no other news story for them except the violence,” he said.
Azad said despite witnessing 20 years of perpetual strife, the crime rate remained lowest here. “If we compare the crime rate like rapes, beating of elderly and other social crimes in rest of India with J&K, our state is witnessing zero social crime,” he said.
Azad said Kashmir lost golden opportunity of becoming IT hub in 1990 due to eruption of militancy. “In 1990, people having know-how of IT left for Bangalore. Even top dignitaries like Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister visited Bangalore. Many business giants invested in the State and result is visible,” Azad said.
The Union Health Minister said when he was Union Tourism Minister in mid-90s, he promoted Kerala as the best tourist destination against Kashmir. “Violence had left its mark and nobody was ready to stay in Kashmir let alone investment,” he said. Azad said; “Keeping the sustainability of tourism in mind, we need to focus on diversity as well.”
The Union Minister said tourists should not remain confined to Srinagar only. “There has to be policy where we can extend the visit of a tourist from two days to a week to a fortnight. At the same time, we need to promote pilgrim tourism,” he said.
He said Kashmir was having less area and thus, “caring capability” for the tourists were less as well. “We should not take tourism and the high number of tourists’ for granted. Tourism in Kashmir should not be for the sake of tourism,” he said. “We need to keep in mind what we are leaving for our future generations. They should not curse us.” He said Ladakh too was having a great tourism potential but most of its areas were inaccessible.
Azad praised the tourism fraternity of Kashmir for putting in best efforts for the revival of tourism. “We have witnessed almost 1.5 million tourist arrival in Kashmir, which is a good sign. Focus should be on upgrading of infrastructure as well,” he said.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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