Rafiabad sans tourism infrastructure

Greater Kashmir

Rafiabad: Government’s much hyped project to promote tourism in various scenic places here has turned into a damp squib in absence of basic infrastructure and facilities for the tourists. 
 Owing to its natural beauty, the State Government in 2010 had decided to develop basic tourist infrastructure in Bosiya and Mandji here. The plan envisaged construction of the Tourist Information Centre, two dormitories and a restaurant at Bosiya and development of a camp site besides Gazebo at Mandji. However despite of passing of nearly two years the plan is gathering dust.
 Locals said places like Kiterdaji, Mandji, Bosiya, Hamam Markote, Ladoora, Gabiwar and Viji have tremendous potential to attract tourists. “The entire region of Rafiabad if promoted as a tourist destination can provide an employment opportunity to thousands of unemployed youth here and help to promote tourism,” said Ghulam Rasool, a retired teacher of Rafiabad.
 The locals said though a trekking facilitation centre was constructed at Mandji. “However in absence of development of tracks in Mandji, Gabiwar, Bosiya, Hajibal, Boniyar and Gulmarg, the Centre is of no use,” they said.
 “If developed the Mandji-Gulmarg track will be an ultimate tourist attraction especially for the trekkers and nature lovers. The entire track is bestowed with spruce forest nestled between mountains” said Mehboob Alam of Hamam Markote.
 “Lackadaisical approach of the concerned authorities has diminished the hopes to bring Rafiabad on the tourist map of Kashmir. Government has failed to expand the tourism industry to this north Kashmir area despite having vast potential,” they said.
 When contacted Director Tourism Kashmir Talat Parvez said the area has been promoted as a Tourist Village. “Some of the work has been already carried out there and a trekking project is ready. It will be executed subject to availability of funds,” Talat said.
  Talat said under the project the locals have to convert their residences into guest houses. “For this endeavor they will get an assistance of rupees two-five lakh,” he added.
Reports compiled by Altaf Baba