GOVERNMENT WAKES UP TO SAVE GULMARG
Goes For Tented Accommodation To Protect Ski Resort’s Fragile Ecosystem
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Sep 17: In its endeavour to protect fragile ecosystem of Gulmarg from large-scale concrete constructions and promote ecotourism there, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided to go for environmental-friendly tented accommodation at the world famous ski resort.
Officials said the move has been taken on the recommendations of the Union Tourism Ministry and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who recently stressed for upgrading facilities in Gulmarg “without tampering with its natural phenomena.”
Officials said Gulmarg has only a capacity of 1500 rooms while over 15 lakh tourists visited the resort this summer creating an ever-increasing demand for further accommodation.
“Gulmarg has received a record number of tourists this year. Every tourist who visits Kashmir wants to see Gulmarg due to its main attraction Gondola. To protect its fragile environs, we cannot afford to allow large-scale concrete constructions. So Government has decided to promote tented accommodations at various spots in the resort,” Mehmood Ahmad Shah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Gulmarg Development Authority told Greater Kashmir.
Shah said the tendering process for tented accommodation in Gulmarg has been completed. He said the camping sites near the picturesque Strawberry Valley and Old Youth Hostel adjacent to the Maharaja’s Palace have been allotted to a private party.
“We plan to develop more camping sites at Kongdoori and Botapathri which san any formal accommodation. During winter Gulmarg hosts many ski-events and we have sufficient accommodation for winter as mostly professional skiers visit Gulmarg,” Shah said.
“Our endeavour is to provide eco-friendly, unique and best accommodation to our valued visitors who mostly throng the ski-resort in summer,” he added.
Mustafa Shaw, who has developed camping sites at Gulmarg, exuded the hope that the tented accommodation will attract high-end tourists to the resort.
“Most of the tourists particularly foreigners want to remain close with nature. We have pitched luxurious tents with all basic facilities in Gulmarg. I am hopeful that it will be a major attraction for tourists in the ski-resort,” Mustafa said.
Abdul Rauf, founder of J&K Tourism Alliance said before construction of road to Gulmarg in 1968, the ski-resort did not have any concrete structures.
“There were only wooden huts of British officers which were utilized as accommodation for tourists. A serpentine pony track led to Gulmarg which helped in regulating flow of tourist. However, Gulmarg witnessed vandalism particularly in past two decades when most of the concrete structures including those from Army came up taking sheen out of the ski-resort,” said Rauf who has served as tourist officer of Gulmarg in ‘60s.
“Though it is a good step that government wants to prevent further concrete construction in the fragile area, however due care should be taken to ensure scientific management of garbage and sewage generated near the tents,” Rauf added.
Secretary Union Ministry of Tourism, R H Khwaja, who has undertaken on the spot assessment of Gulmarg and other tourism places in the Valley, had expressed concern over rapid deterioration of resort’s fragile environment and recommended eco-friendly measures to tackle the problem.
During the recent board meeting of Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) the CM had echoed similar views saying; “the world famous Gulmarg demands additional attention of the concerned departments to maintain its grandeur and glory”.
“GDA should focus attention on upgrading facilities without tampering with natural phenomena and ambiance of this beautiful meadow surrounded by majestic mountains covered with forest wealth,” Omar had stressed.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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