Popular Peerzoo cafe closed for a year as tourism deptt fails to outsource

Only visitors who can be seen now resting or merry making in the lounge of this English style building on the back of the Residency Road are dogs, with occasional visits of some bovines.

AUQIB SALAM
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 20 2018 11:19PM | Updated Date: May 21 2018 9:58AM
Popular Peerzoo cafe closed for a year as tourism deptt fails to outsourceGK Photo

Few years back a most happening place in the city thronged by hundreds of people every day, Peerzoo Restaurant and Café located in the heart of Srinagar on the Bund –famous Jhelum bank in the city – is now a desolate place.  

Thanks to tourism department’s failure to manage it internally or lease it out to some ‘well meaning’ businessman or entrepreneur, the once popular restaurant has turned into an abandoned building with rusted windows and tables inside the restaurant gathering dust. 

Only visitors who can be seen now resting or merry making in the lounge of this English style building on the back of the Residency Road are dogs, with occasional visits of some bovines. 

Named after its location, Peerzoo – the island formed due to a backwater channel of Jhelum, the café, situated on a picturesque place with a beautiful view of Jhelum, and Zabarwan hills in the backdrop, was equally liked by the locals as well as tourists, who would particularly like to spend the evening there to witness the sunset. 

However, due to slothful and careless attitude of the tourism department this prized café at a prime location in Srinagar is now closed for more than a year to the dismay of the people who were regular visitors to the place.

“Whenever, I used to visit home, I would definitely visit Peerzo with my friends or family but to my surprise when I went there this time, it was closed,” said a Delhi based Kashmiri journalist. “It is sad, how can they closedown such a happening place in the city. This was among a very few places in the city, where people could go to chill out.”  

An official of the tourism department, who does not want to be named, said the department in 2016 outsourced Peerzoo to a local fast-food chain but they not only mismanaged it but left mid of the year citing losses, though, all the businesses were down in 2016 due to unrest. But since then the department has failed to outsource the restaurant. 

When contacted by Greater Kashmir, director tourism Mehmood Shah said that it is hard for the department to find the people who can run the restaurant given the business atmosphere in Kashmir due to untoward situation. 

“Two years back the party that won the bid for five years came to us within a year saying that they don’t want to continue citing loses”, Said Shah.

“We have put out outsourcing notices for five times since then that too by lowering the price of the bid but could not find any interested party,” he said. 

The director also said that the dredging in the Jhelum has defaced its surroundings since authorities used to dump all the sand in the park close by to the island, making the restaurant full of dust.

The restaurant was opened in 2009 by then tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora and became instant hit among the people.  

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