To promote Patnitop as a major tourist destination, Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, today took wide ranging decisions of infrastructural and recreational importance for the place.
Chairing board meeting of Patnitop Development Authority here today, the CM said Mantalai, Sanasar, Baghliar, Dudu Basantgarh, Batote and Kud will be promoted as one Tourist Circuit with Patnitop as its hub.
Urging the departments concerned to collaborate and share best practices, the Chief Minister asked the Tourism department to develop market strategy for better promotion of Patnitop Circuit. Placing high priority on starting work on Patnitop ropeway, the Chief Minister granted one week to the authorities concerned to make a final presentation, in view of the changes in the alignment recommended by the Forest Advisory Committee. He also issued instructions for removing impediments so that work on the project is expedited, an official statement said.
In order to attract captive segment of Vaishno Devi and Patnitop-bound tourists, Mufti approved the 'basic concept paper' on developing tourism around Baghliar dam, which primarily focuses on water-based leisure activities.
Under the project, villages of Dharmund and Baghliar will offer family packages in water-sports activities like floating cruises, viewpoint for waterfalls, camp life, tented and cottage accommodation, which will draw visitors towards a new concept of leisure tourism in Jammu.
Emphasizing the need for scientific disposal of waste, Mufti directed the Deputy Commissioner Udhampur to identify land for dumping site.
On the issue of setting up STP, the Chief Minister was informed that the work on the project will commence shortly as the land for the purpose has been acquired and tender allotted.
The Chief Minister observed that underground cabling of power lines and enhancing capacity of Shivgarh Water Reservoir are of paramount importance to promote Patnitop as weekend and weekdays' destination.
He asked Commissioner / Secretary Tourism to formulate a plan for ensuring uninterrupted power supply at the resort. In order to sustain footprint of tourists to Patnitop after Chenani-Nashri Tunnel is opened for vehicular traffic, Mufti directed the Tourism department to conceive a plan which envisages setting up of add-on attractions like Multiplex, Amusement Park and a Toy Train.
He said after the tunnel becomes operational, Public Works Department will be assigned full-time responsibility of maintaining the Chenani-Patnitop Road as also Kalar-Gorikund Road. Stating that tourism is inextricably linked to quality of environment, the Chief Minister called for expediting notification of Zonal Master Plans so that planned development of Patnitop is brought about. He also called for simplification of the procedure for providing hassle-free building permissions to locals living in the notified area of the Developmental Authority.
The Chief Minister also issued directions for replacement of traditional streetlights with solar lights to improve the aesthetic ambience of the resort. He was also informed that 14 huts belonging to JKTDC have been upgraded so that better facilities are provided to night-bound tourists at the resort. Earlier, on his arrival here, Mufti launched the official website of PDA. He also released Rs 20 lakh for developing wayside viewpoints at Dudu Basantgarh for tourists.
Mufti also passed directions for upgrading facilities in budgeted accommodations at Kud and Sanasar so that the intake capacity of Patnitop Circuit is enhanced.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, Minister for Forest & Social Welfare, Bali Baghat, Minister of State for Finance and IT, Pawan Kumar, Legislators, Dina Nath, Ranbir Singh Pathania, Neelam Kumar Langeh and Firdous Tak, Principal Secretary, Planning, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Commissioner / Secretary, Tourism & Culture, Shailendra Kumar, Secretary to Chief Minister, M. H. Malik, Director Tourism, Jammu, R. K. Verma, Director Tourism, Kashmir & MD JKTDC, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Deputy Commissioners of Udhampur & Ramban, besides CEO, PDA, attended the meeting.
In a separate meeting with stakeholders, the Chief Minister issued directions for setting up a helipad to operate chopper services for high-end tourists, opening of J&K Bank branch with ATM facility, dedicated pony track and construction of toilet points on user charges basis for the visitors.
For development of Sanasar, the Chief Minister was briefed that a Nine-Hole Golf Course has been laid, besides conservation of lake and up-gradation of hutments to facilitate tourists. While directing the authorities concerned to explore potential for adventure tourism of Sanasar, the Chief Minister desired that the Amusement Park be set up on Sanasar-Patnitop Road "so that both areas are developed as family destinations".
Director Tourism, Jammu, made a presentation before the Chief Minister about various steps taken to develop Mantalai as an International Yoga Centre over 125 acre of land under Prasad, a Ministry of Tourism scheme.
He said a heliport, eco-log huts, convention centre, amphitheatre and tourist walkways will also be developed for promotion of Mantalai as a "Centre for Excellence for Yoga".
The Chief Minister gave directions for carrying out a survey for laying of ropeway between Patnitop and Mantalai. At a distance of 32 km from Chenani, Mantalai is ideally suited to attract high-end tourists as an airstrip for fixed-wing planes already exists there.