It is said that time is the biggest healer so it makes you to forget the promises made. If one remembers it was former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who had called for relocation of paramilitary camp from Pahalgam as part of efforts aimed at improving the existing infrastructure to make the base camp for the annual Yatra to Amarnath cave shrine more attractive for sustainable local economy. What was expected was to provide better facilities and as far as security was concerned paramilitary forces are providing a yeoman service to the pilgrims coming from all corner of the world. Laid on the banks of the Lidder River, Pahalgam is well known for its beautiful environs, lush green natural beauty, vast valleys, towering mountains and an appropriate climate. No doubt Pahalgam has more tourist potential but amidst the ongoing yatra it is very rare to see tourists coming to this hill station. On an average, over 5,000 Amarnath Yatris perform ‘Darshan’ at the 3,880 metre high holy cave daily from Pahalgam axis. The beautification drive as desired by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed like landscaping of open areas on either side of Circuit and Aru Roads and connecting of Sekhpathri Parks etc would no doubt have enhanced the Yatra value with better facilities especially to escape from nature’s vagaries for the over one -month long pilgrimage and instilling a sense of security that is only possible if the paramilitary infrastructure is put into service. It would be a tough task for the state police, though they are working in tandem with paramilitary forces. The 46-km cave track from Pahalgam has the highest flow of pilgrims during the yatra period. The late CM had also called for collaborated efforts by stakeholders to showcase various recreational places in Jammu as one summer package for tourists and initiative to sell Jammu as an independent tourist destination has already been set into motion. Today both these ideas mooted by Mufti are buried under the burden of official apathy and to be forgotten and confined to official files only.
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