Jammed with tourists
Do we know what does that mean?
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
The noose is slowly but surely tightening. Over a period of time the long rope of ever-growing tourism is bound to hang Kashmir to a painful death. It is not out of any anti-development agenda (which the market economic forces invariably try to label, in order to silence the critics of indiscriminate development posing real dangers to the fragile environment and local cultures) that the fears about the chaotically mushrooming tourism are being expressed. The worries are real; Kashmir may eventually turn out to be a desert or for the least, a soulless jungle of concrete.
What is important, preservation of culture and environment or superficial notions of economic well-being? Time now has come to take a holistic view, while promoting tourism a sensible approach has to be adopted. Nobody disagrees with the fact that tourism is a money spinning industry; it provides livelihood to thousands is an established fact. That does not mean that we start overdoing and in the process ruin our cherished culture, ecology and peril the future of coming generations. Undeniably, sugar besides a source of quick energy is exceptionally pleasing, however a continued over consumption of sweet can equally prove to be fatal. Despite a hype built around the economic potential of tourism, it has proved to be immensely beneficial for the people of J&K, no two opinions about this fact. The unprecedented growth of tourism particularly the pilgrim tourism in the recent years--- sold by the strong vested interest groups as so called ‘peace dividend’ ---in the immediate sense has enticingly proved beneficial for the people directly connected with the tourism industry. The long-term sociological, ecological, even economic, impact of the haphazard tourism on the society has to be properly examined. Let not, what we consider advantageous may ultimately prove to be utterly disastrous.
Tourism authorities including politicians in a self-patting manner go on to declare that “more than one crore pilgrims visited Mata Vaishno Devi in 2011 and more than 13 lac visitors came to Kashmir Valley which is 79 % higher than the number in 2010. 1.79 lakh visitors came to Ladakh during the same period which is 136% higher than the year 2010”. Before trying to gather accolades where there exists none, the big daddies of tourism industry need to be asked a question. Have they ever tried to ascertain the environmental impact of the arrival of more than one crore pilgrims on the Trikuta hills or for that matter on the fragile Kolahoi glacier, before celebrating the arrival of 6.34 lakh pilgrims? Announcement of “Spiritual Circuit for Jammu, Sofi Circuit for Kashmir and Buddhist Circuit for Ladakh” may help to bring more people but can our already over stressed ecosystems accommodate arrival of more and more people without causing an irreversible damage to the environment? More often we are told about the so called environment friendly practices being adopted while planning the huge influx of pilgrims, they are always welcome, Kashmir has proved to be more than hospitable and it requires nobody’s certificate. Even if super-efficient protection to the environment is envisaged while planning the arrival of tourists, the huge human footprint is destined to cause substantial damage to the ecosystems despite an immensely cautions approach being adopted. No matter what the precautions, it is never possible to protect the environment without limiting the footprint.
Pilgrim tourism is a matter of faith that has to be respected in all respects. However the unnatural and infused growth of the pilgrim tourism is a deep cause of worry for the local population. If the myopic minds hold responsible the present socio cultural character of Kashmir reason for the political dispute, in that case it’s profoundly a disturbing scenario, bound to cause many anxieties. The forced cultural assimilation of Tibet by China in the name of national integration being talked as a role model to dissolve the conflict, and not resolve the problem amicably, is extremely disturbing. Attempts to change the complexion of Kashmir may be ideologically soothing for a rabidly closed mindset. The highly reckless adventure of cultural assimilation is capable of dissolving the conflict is sheer figment of imagination of a frenzied mind. The authorities avowing to be secular need to convince the people of J&K that there is no grand sinister design underway to dilute the socio cultural outlook of Kashmir. Even if they are able to convince the people that their anxieties are unfounded, yet the little regard for immensely genuine environmental concerns leads to only one conclusion that there is something amiss that fails to meet the eye. It is age of conservation; the emphasis has radically shifted from consumption to preservation. In the Managements schools the learners taught till recently how to produce and consume are now being trained how to preserve. Why the rulers are so oblivious of the real ecological concerns, they need to come clean.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Mar 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Mar 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 31 Mar 2012 00:00:00 IST
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