Capitalize on these rich resources to integrate them into economy
A few weeks back, the entry of a geo-scientist in my office was a delight. I know this local 75-year-old scientist as an internationally acclaimed gemstone expert. He roams around the world and talks as an authority on Gemology. He has been highlighting Kashmir sapphire and other gemstone varieties at various international fora. Based on his inputs and expert opinion I tried to trigger an appetite in government authorities through my columns to unleash initiatives to tap the unexplored potential of gem and jewelry in our state.
I was routinely expecting another round of discussion with the geo-scientist on gem and jewelry. But it didn’t happen. In fact, he was quick enough to state that he was not this time going to talk about gemstones at all.
“Today, I will tell you about the fossil wealth of Triassic period which we have in abundance in Kashmir,” he said.
Listening stories about past is always fascinating. So, I spontaneously got attentive.
As we have been made to understand the Triassic Period as the first period of the Mesozoic era (age of reptiles) to have occurred 252 million years ago and ended 201 million years ago. The Triassic followed on the heels of the largest mass extinction in the history of the Earth.
Notably, both the start and end of the period are marked by major mass extinction events. Scientists have concluded that the extinction of more than 90 percent of Earth’s species happened in this period. If the expert opinion is to be believed, ‘the first tsunami has hit the world in Kashmir leading to mass extinction.’
Basically, this local geo-scientist has been aspiring for establishment of a fossil park in Kashmir. He has independently been traveling to appropriate places outside the country to woo international support for establishing the first ever fossil park in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. He has even succeeded in motivating international community to travel to Kashmir and seek their expertise and other support to develop the fossil park. But, the irony is that the local authorities lack interest to accomplish the project.
J&K is a state with diverse physical attributes, rich cultural heritage and eventful 5000 years of recorded history. Tourism plays a major role in showcasing such great treasure of rich past to the rest of the world. Even as there have been various significant initiative in promoting tourism across the globe, the government has failed to establish new tourist destinations such as fossil park in the vicinity of Srinagar etc. in the state, which have a huge potential to woo international tourist traffic.
Let’s talk in the context of preserving and promoting our rich past. We haven’t been able to capitalize on these rich resources to integrate them into our economy through tourism route. Even as the places and areas stand identified to be developed and promoted, lack of interest mars these projects. In 2016, the government was known about the discovery of Triassic fossils at Guryul Ravines, Khonmoh-Vihi, 13 kilometers from Srinagar. A statement was made that time about the establishment of an International Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park soon. But it didn’t happen. However, in mid October last year, another statement hit headlines when it was announced that Kashmir would likely get its new tourist destination in the shape of first-ever fossil park.
This time the statement carried weight as Penn Dixie Natural of the United States was convinced that the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park is one of the world’s geological treasures. They have agreed to join hands with the local authorities through the local geo-scientist who visited them in US to seek their support and guidance.
Notably, the Penn Dixie is a natural history society and World’s No 1 Fossil Park at Hamburg, New York, USA.
To conclude, the authorities have to understand that an international Kashmir Triassic Park would attract global attention. Not only geo-scientists, it would pull crowds across globe. Such a project would become one of the most cherished places of learning for students, scholars and scientist all over the world.
I don’t think finances will be a hurdle. There will be global financers who would love to invest money in a fossil park like this, which describes life on earth existing 250 millions years ago. What’s needed is the strong will of the authorities to realize the dream of having an international Kashmir Fossil Park.
(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)