Srinagar, Feb 13: The government has failed to keep a check on the prices of various utility items at Gulmarg leading to fleecing of tourists and locals.
As the valley experienced heavy snowfall this winter season, thousands of tourists flocked to the famous ski resort.
However, eyewitnesses said that the shopkeepers and sledge owners have taken undue advantage of the huge tourism inflow by charging the exorbitant rates are being charged for sledge rides, skiing, rented snow boots and Jackets and iron chains tied in the wheels of cars to avoid slip on snow.
A local from Srinagar, Muneeb Ahmad, who recently went to Gulmarg in his own car, told The Kashmir Monitor that the chain owners at Tangmarg charged Rs 700 to Rs 800 for tying chains to his car wheels so that it can tread safely on road to Gulmarg.
He said that there was no one to keep a check on the rates.
“Moreover there is no fixed rate anywhere, be it sledge ride, skiing or mobile fruit vendors,” he said.
A newly-wed tourist couple said they was charged Rs. 500 for renting a pair of snow boots for one day.
“There should be a monitoring body who can keep a check over price hike. We wanted to complain but there is no one to whom I may be concerned,” the couple added.
Another local who had come to Gulmarg along with his family said that rates are skyrocketing here. “For the first hour of sledge ride I was charged Rs 400 and Rs 300 for every sub sequent hour,” he said.
“In 2018, stakeholders of tourism business, which even includes sledge-owners, drivers were fined Rs 10.11 lakh for violating the Tourist Trade Act for duping the tourists,” an official of the tourist department said.
“There is a sharp increase as compared to Rs 6.17 lakh penalty recovered by tourist police in 2017,” he said.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Superintendent Tourist Police, Amarjit Singh said that there have already deputed officials to keep check over prices.
“Tourists should contact me whenever they find any inconvenience and there is also our information centre in the main market Tangmarg where contact numbers are displayed and officials are also present,” he said.