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Efforts underway to make J&K country’s most preferred tourist destination: LG

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Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Sunday said his administration is working on a strategic plan for development of the tourism sector to make the union territory the most preferred tourist destination in the country.
Sinha was speaking after inaugurating virtually the Comprehensive Mansar Rejuvenation and Development Plan worth Rs 198.37 crore in the presence of Union minister Jitendra Singh, an official spokesperson said.
“The UT Government is working on a strategic plan for growth and development of tourism sector. With numerous heritage sites, world-class infrastructure and promotion of adventure sports, we can achieve the tag of India’s most preferred tourist destination,” Sinha said.
“I am thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the historic step of developing our rich cultural, historical, natural and religious heritage into world-class tourist destinations,” he said.
Sinha said tourism contributes about 7 per cent to Jammu and Kashmir’s GDP and the revival of the tourism sector is the topmost priority of his administration.
“New policies will help in value creation and profitability for local businesses. In the last two months, the UT Government, in consultation with officers and stakeholders, is working for bringing tourist spots of J-K on the world tourism map,” he said.
The LG said his administration is implementing recommendations made by a committee constituted in August for the development of the tourism sector and for the welfare of all those associated with it.
“J-K has abundant wealth in terms of water bodies. The Government is working rigorously for conservation and preservation of water bodies and is taking comprehensive measures for restoring their ecosystem,” he said.
Highlighting various initiatives taken for the growth and development of the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir, the LG said the tourism department has also framed a policy for seeking investment for tourist destinations and areas where such potential is yet to be fully explored.
“Under the tourism policy, various incentives, in addition to the ones already covered under the industrial policy, have been proposed to be provided to new investment in this sector,” he said.
Sinha said development of religious tourism is also one of the focus areas of the administration.
He said the central government has allocated Rs 706 crore for the tourism sector which will go a long way in the revival of tourism infrastructure.
He said the prestigious Mansar project aims at increasing tourist footfall, which in turn will facilitate the socio-economic development of the area, open more avenues for its holistic development and generate more employment opportunities for locals.
Located in the close vicinity of Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, Mansar and the nearby Surinsar are the most popular tourist destinations in the Jammu region.
“Mansar is of immense importance from pilgrimage as well heritage points of view besides being the most scenic attraction due to the vast Mansar Lake, its wildlife sanctuary and flora and fauna,” Sinha said.
“The implementation of its rejuvenation plan will certainly bring Mansar on the world tourism map,” Sinha said.
The administration has set a target of completing the project within five years, he said.
Speaking after the e-foundation stone laying ceremony, Jitendra Singh said that the number of national projects initiated in the region in over last six years are more than the number of such projects initiated in the earlier seven decades.
“The incredible development is too obviously visible to go unnoticed,” he said, adding that after its implementation, the number of tourists and pilgrims will increase from the current 10 lakh to 20 lakh per year.
Singh said that the Mansar Rejuvenation Plan will lead to employment generation of about 1.15 crore man-days and will generate an income of more than Rs 800 crore per year.
“Ever since the Modi government took over, Jammu and Kashmir has received highest priority in development and particularly the Udhampur-Doda-Kathua parliamentary constituency, which can be compared to any other Lok Sabha constituency of India for its landmark developmental works.
“While Udhampur-Doda-Kathua is possibly the only Lok Sabha constituency in the country which has received three medical colleges in three years, Udhampur possibly the only district in the country which has on the lines of Namami Ganga and Ganga cleaning project received two similar rejuvenation and renovation projects for River Devika and Mansar Lake respectively,” the minister said.
Both these projects will cost about Rs 200 crore, Singh said, adding that River Devika is said to be the sister of mother Ganga and that the Mansar lake finds reference in the ancient writings of Mahabharata.
He said that over the last six years, many such new projects were initiated and similarly, dumped projects were also revived after decades. He cited the Shahpur Kandi Irrigation Projects which were revived after four decades and the Ujh multipurpose project which was also revived after over five decades.
In the same vicinity, the minister said, North India’s first biotech industrial park and the first ever seed processing plant are also coming up, which will generate job opportunities as well as sources of livelihood and research.
Singh referred to the Katra-Delhi expressway corridor, the work for which has been started.
He said while the world”s highest railway bridge is coming up in Reasi, the work on a new national highway project from Sudhmahadev via Marmat to Khileni has also started.
Rising above considerations of vote banks, it has been an effort to provide facilities developed in the neglected areas, the minister said.
He said that while the distant area Paddar in Kishtwar got its first centrally funded college two years back, a new airport is coming up in Kishtwar under the central government’s UDAN scheme.
Similarly, the far flung area of Poghal-Ukhraj and Marmat got their first-ever degree college, Gandoh got its first ever post office, although these areas have been over the decades represented by the central ministers, he added.

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