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Tourist Industry at the receiving end

With fresh snowfall hitting the valley, the power woes are heavily casting the Kashmir’s prime tourist industry. People associated with tourist trade complain that the lack of electricity in hotels, houseboats and other places of tourist-lodge have a negative effect on the psyche of visiting tourists. All the charm tourists enjoy in the day turns into an ordeal for them in the evening which continues throughout the night. Hundreds of winter tourists are thronging daily to witness the snowy scenes in the valley. With the valley witnessing intermittent snowfall over the past one month, the valley charm has gone up beyond bounds. It is after several winters that the valley is witnessing a good snowfall. Last winter went completely dry. Snow being a great attraction for outside tourists, the valley is presently host to thousands of tourists who have come from non-snow zones across India and outside world to enjoy the picturesque snowfields and mountains. Hotels and huts in the land of snow—Gulmarg—are fully occupied. A thick blanket of snow over the Srinagar is giving it a wonderful look attracting a larger number of tourists.

Tourists have come from different parts of the country besides from abroad. Tourists are having a good time here. They are enjoying the snowfall and the snow clad mountains in the backdrop. This is despite the fact that the temperature here runs in sub-zero during the night. But what mars their mood is the lack of electricity. It gives a frightening picture in the evening when the darkness spreads its tentacles around. Most of the hotels have put in place alternate arrangements like diesel generators for lighting. But turning on number of generators simultaneously makes the whole atmosphere earsplitting noisy. It makes a horrible picture of this unparalleled tourist place. The visiting tourists too have on record expressed their displeasure on the poor power supply and the delight and charm one gets in the snow vanishes once one reaches hotel. Frequent and long unscheduled power cuts destroyed the whole mood. The power scenario is worst of all in the Dal Lake where visitors stay in houseboats. The houseboat owners say that they cannot light on diesel generators as they have very limited space in the houseboats.

The generators cause so much noise that the visitors get annoyed. This has a telling effect on the overall tourist industry. In the prevailing tense situation, tourists usually come after hard persuasion by tour and travel agents. It is the word of the mouth that motivates them. But when they confront with issues like no-power in the hotels, they have all the reason to counsel their friends against visiting the valley. Imagine a life without power supply it would look like a horrible dream. And the local residents of Kashmir live such a life permanently. While the city population avails the power supply in bits and pieces, most parts of the rural Kashmir have been without electricity since the fall of the first snowflake, last month. Besides making the life of an ordinary citizen hell, the lack of electricity has dealt a serious blow to the overall business industry.

The industrial units all across the valley remains shut for most of the time bringing a halt in commercial activity. The shops and business establishments in Srinagar and all other major towns too have to bring down their shutters early in the evening as power supply remains shut on most occasions. There have been protests against PDD and government in some areas but these have gone unheard. Over the past few days, people in several areas protested on the roads against the government failure in providing scheduled power supply to the consumers leading to halt in traffic movement at various places. This scene is repeated every year with no attention from the powers-that-be. The present dispensation headed by Governor Sat Pal Malik has appeared somewhat different. He recently raised a genuine concern of the people of Kashmir over arbitrary rise in airfare with the Prime Minister. One hopes that the Governor would take note of what is happening with the people in these wintery days and deliver in mitigating the problems of immediate nature confronting them.