Srinagar, Sep 23: Jammu and Kashmir is among the worst in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) when it comes to maintaining a balance between environment and tourism, a recent report by NITI Aayog has revealed.
The Himalayan region covers 5,33,000 square kilometres across 10 mountain states including J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, and the hill districts of Dima Hasao (Assam) and Karbi Anglong (Darjeeling) and Kalimpong (West Bengal).
The August 2018 report, titled ‘Report of Working Group II, Sustainable Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region’, reveals that J&K is not investing in tourism despite the potential and earnings from the sector.
The total state expenditure on tourism in 2017, the report shows, was Rs 14.73 crore, a mere 0.03 per cent of the state’s total Rs 48,819-crore expenditure.
J&K was placed third among the IHR states with least investment on tourism.
The report juxtaposed the little investment in the tourism sector by J&K with the ever-increasing flow of tourists and the ill-way of handling it.
The report, for instance, reveals that the average use of water by a local resident in Ladakh was 25 litres a day, as against a tourist who uses up 75 litres per day.
“Similarly there are hotels which consume up to 5,000 litres of water per day and each year 20 to 25 such hotels are being registered in the Ladakh region,” the report says, adding, “Sustainable tourism investment needs in this vulnerable landscape have grown drastically.”
Waste management, it adds, has been a huge challenge in IHR and will become much more threatening as the number of tourists grows.
J&K, here as well, fares poorly, with 0.14 gm per capita per day solid waste generation, the second worst in the region after Mizoram.
J&K, as per the report, saw more than 5.8 crore tourist arrivals between 2011 and 2015.
It, however, has, so far, failed in scientific waste management and has faced repeated censuring by National Green Tribunal.
“It also needs underlining that due to different microclimates and inaccessibility, waste disposal or decomposition in the mountains is either long term or it drains into rivulets endangering aquatic life and quality of regulatory services (e.g. drinking water quality) downstream,” the report read.
The observation fits aptly to J&K which has witnessed a mushroom growth of tourism infrastructure around water bodies, with little or no concern for the former’s impact over the latter.
In Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the report shows J&K putting a very bleak show in indices Air and Water pollution, Forests, Waste Management and Climate Change vis-à-vis all the states of India with a final EPI rank of 22.
In a World Bank survey in 2015, which used criteria such as ‘Ease of doing Business and Environmental Compliance’, the report says that none of the IHR states figured in the top 10.
“It indicates that the environment for tourism business is not necessarily favourable in the IHR and that despite the fragility of the IHR landscape, environmental compliance may have been compromised,” the report added.
Amit Shah in Kashmir today
Home Minister to review security, meet delegations during 2-day visit
Srinagar, Jun 25: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will arrive on a two-day visit to Kashmir on Wednesday.
Focusing on internal security, the home minister will chair a high-level security meeting in Srinagar during the visit.
He will also co-chair the unified headquarters meeting with J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik.
Unified headquarters is the state’s apex anti-militancy security grid, which comprises top officials of the security forces, including the army and the state police engaged in counter-insurgency operations.
Shah will also meet the state party leaders, delegations of the civil society and Panchayat members. He is expected to also pay obeisance at the Amarnathji Shrine during his visit.“Union Home Minister is arriving in Kashmir tomorrow (Wednesday). He will straightaway visit the cave-shrine in South Kashmir and perform Darshan there. After that he will reach Srinagar where he is scheduled to chair a high-level security meeting where top security officials have been invited,” said a top official in the security grid of Kashmir.
“On day two of his visit, he will meet several delegations including the party’s core group members, sarpanchs, panchs and also the delegations of youth and civil society and politicians,” the official said.
He will also revive the various developmental projects and pass certain important directions to Governor Satya Pal Malik.
As for BJP, Shah will meet the party leaders separately and seek overall feedback over its functioning in the state especially the upcoming membership drive to be launched by BJP.
He will fly back to New Delhi on Friday morning.
The home minister’s visit, which was earlier scheduled for June 30, was rescheduled due to his busy timetable connected with the Union Budget.
This will be his first visit to J&K after he took over as the home minister of the country.
Earlier this month, Shah held a security meeting to take stock of internal security in the country and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Intelligence Bureau chief.
Shah has asserted that the policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government of zero tolerance towards militancy will continue in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a first, separatists skip hartal call
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jun 25: A first in several years, no separatist leader or amalgam has called for a shutdown against the visit of Home Minister Amit Shah to Kashmir on Wednesday.
Neither Joint Hurriyat, comprising of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and now arrested Yasin Malik, nor any individual separatist group called for any shutdown or issued any statement to media in this regard.
Over the last several years, the separatist groups used to call for strikes against such VVIP visits in Kashmir.
For instance, Joint Hurriyat had called for a complete shutdown on February 3 against PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir.
Similarly, the amalgam had also called for a strike on September 10, 2017 when the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh had arrived in Kashmir.
Considering that it was Amit Shah’s first visit to J&K after assuming charge as Home Minister, the separatists’ silence on it is a clear indication of them going against their own set norms over the last several years.
Shah will arrive on a two-day visit on Wednesday. Focusing on internal security, the home minister will chair a high-level security meeting in Srinagar during the visit. He will also co-chair the unified headquarters meeting with J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik.
Shah will also meet the state party leaders, delegations of the civil society and Panchayat members. He is expected to also pay obeisance at the Amarnathji Shrine during his visit.
Amit Shah’s visit: Security beefed up ; Traffic diversions in city for 2 days
Srinagar, Jun 25: Security has been beefed up in Srinagar ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s maiden visit to the valley.
Shah, who recently succeeded Rajnath Singh, is arriving on a two-day visit on Wednesday.
Earlier, as per the reports, he was scheduled to arrive on June 30 for a day long visit. The visit was pre-poned in view of his engagements in the parliament in connection with the ongoing monsoon session.
A senior police official, who wished not to be named, said that all security measures, required for the visit of high profile dignitary, have been taken. “The area domination exercise has been intensified. Adequate security measures have been put in place in and around SKICC, where Shah is scheduled to attend many crucial meetings,” he said.
On Monday evening, Jammu Kashmir Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) conducted searches at The Bund in the heart of city.
Searches were also conducted at many places including Batwara in Srinagar’s Sonwar area on Tuesday.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dr Haseeb Mughal said that “area domination exercise” was being carried out in view of the visit by senior dignitaries.“Home Minister, Amit Shah is also visiting the valley. It is also the part of the security drill being carried out every year before the commencement of annual Amarnath yatra,” he said.
Meanwhile, in view of Shah’s visit to Kashmir, the traffic police had ordered traffic diversions on different routes in Srinagar.
The traffic police, in an official order, said that no motorist shall be allowed to ply towards Nishat, Shalimar, Harwan and adjacent areas via Badyan chowk and Gupkar.“Similarly no traffic shall be allowed to ply from Ram Munshibagh towards Grand Palace and shall be diverted towards Dalgate-Khayam for their respective destinations,” it said.
Likewise, motorists intending to travel from Harwan-Shalimar-Nishat, Ganderbal and other adjacent areas towards Lalchowk have been advised by the traffic police to travel via Hazratbal-Lalbazar route instead of Foreshore-Boulevard road axis to reach respective destinations. “Motorist intending to travel from Dalgate, Lalchowk and adjacent areas towards Harwan-Shalimar-Nishat shall adopt Nowpora-Khayam-Rainawari via Dargah –Zakoora to reach their respective destinations,” it said.
The traffic police said that the vehicles of the tourists who are residing in Dal and Nishat area and emergency service vehicle are exempted from the said restriction.“However they are advised to restrict their movement to bare minimum requirement on boulevard-foreshore road axis. Timing for the traffic restrictions as ordered by District Magistrate for Wednesday is 8am to 10:30pm and Thursday 7am to 4 pm.”
“The government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards militants. Security forces are taking effective and continuous action in countering militancy.”
Tashkent meet ends; consortium appeals for trade resumption
‘Archaic biz model left cross-LoC trade vulnerable’
Srinagar, Jun 25: The representatives of business chambers from J&K and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PaK) Tuesday called upon the governments of India and Pakistan to take a comprehensive review of the modalities and technical mechanism to restore operation of Cross-LoC trade as early as possible.
As reported by The Kashmir Monitor on Tuesday, the Members of the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Associations and Federations of Cross-LoC traders and some independent entrepreneurs met for a ‘Jammu and Kashmir Cross-Line of Control Business Track II’ in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from June 23-25.
The meeting, as per the spokesperson of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I), was facilitated by ‘Conciliation Resources’, a London based organisation working for peace in conflict zones, as part of its support to the Cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBM) since 2009.
Among those participating in the event included both Kashmir and Jammu chambers of commerce and their counterpart in Mirpur, PaK along with several entrepreneurs and cross LoC traders.
The participants said that responding to the CBMs agreed by the Governments of India and Pakistan, they sustained the cross-LoC trade with “emotional investment despite severe financial risks and procedural and operational difficulties.” “They also noted with concern and regret that after launch of trade on an archaic and ad hoc model in 2008, the Governments did not do enough to put the mechanisms on modern lines which left it vulnerable to possible misuse,” the spokesperson said.
“The participants called upon the J&K Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (a consortium of regional chambers in Srinagar, Jammu and Mirpur) to closely work with the Government authorities and the traders for early resumption of trade,” he said.
President JKJCCI Rakesh Gupta, Joint Presidents Sheikh Ashiq (President Kashmir Chamber) and Sohail Shujjah (Mirpur) reiterated their commitment to liaise between Government authorities, traders and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that real intention behind this unique CBM is not lost, said the KCC&I spokesperson.
“The participating Cross-LoC traders and leaders of business chambers from both sides of the divide assured their respective governments of full support and assistance in putting the trade on modern and transparent lines to the benefit of economic development and peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
During the three day event, the participants took a comprehensive view of the cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures initiated by the Governments of India and Pakistan since 2005.
They acknowledged the fact that various CBMs like trade and travel across LoC, in their limited scope, have contributed in building trust and enhancing shared understanding between regions and communities.
Participants were of the unanimous view that agreement on opening of the Line of Control for travel of divided families and further allowing it for trade was a demonstration of statesmanship of the leadership of India and Pakistan.
They participants, the spokesperson added, regretted that the trade had to be suspended by the Government on the Indian side, with effect from 18 April 2019, for “no fault of genuine traders”. “The abrupt suspension of trade has resulted into avoidable opportunity loss.”
They also noted that the peacebuilding and economic potential of the cross-LoC trade could not be realized to its optimum strength due to a variety of reasons. “The participants acknowledged the political sensitivities and difficulties in actualizing the spirit behind softening of Line of Control, but they vehemently asserted that businesses can be viewed separately from politics as in the case of India-Pakistan International Trade which has continued uninterruptedly despite many bilateral setbacks,” the spokesperson said.
Participation of women entrepreneurs from both sides of the Line of Control was one of the key highlights of the Tashkent meeting.
Interestingly, the meeting coincided with the rumours of some ice-breaking between the government of India and Hurriyat leaders.
The participants from J&K in the meeting included: Zulfiqar Abbasi; Ex-President of JK-JCCI; Arifa Jan, Member, KCCI, Srinagar; Ashiq Ahmad Sheikh, President, KCCI; Jasprit Kaur, Entrepreneur, Jammu; Mubeen Ahmed Shah, ex-President, JK-JCCI; Pawan Kumar Anand, LoC Trader; Rahul Pandit, Entrepreneur, Anantnag/Jammu; Rajesh Gupta, Member, Vice President, Jammu Chamber; Rakesh Gupta, President, Jammu Chamber, President JK-JCCI; YV Sharma, ex-President, JCCI; and Farooq Amin, Secretary General, KCCI, Srinagar
From PaK, the participants included: Anjum Zaman, Cross-LoC Trader, Muzaffarabad; Farzana Yaqoob, Entrepreneur from Poonch (PaK), Ghulam Murtaza, ex-President of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mirpur; Imran Aziz, Businessman from Poonch (PaK); Muhammad Kazeem Khan, Cross-LoC Trader; Shaista Rehman, Entrepreneur, Muzaffarabad; Sohail Shujah, President Chamber of Commerce and Industries; and Mirpur, Tanveer Anwar Qureshi, Muzaffarabad Chamber of Commerce.