STATE TIMES NEWSSrinagar: A 600 km-long highway will be constructed along the border touching all picturesque tourist spots in the Kashmir Valley, each of which will be “another Gulmarg”, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has said.The Rs 8,000 crore road project will connect Gulmarg with Kargil and Drass in Ladakh.“We are planning to construct a 600 km road which will touch tourist attractions like Keran, Gurez and Machhal. The road will connect all unexplored tourist spots and picturesque valleys and help open them for the tourists,” Subrahmanyam told a group of visiting journalists.The chief secretary said there will be 12-13 major tunnels along the road and it will also facilitate connectivity to the forward locations.“Each of these tourist locations will be another Gulmarg,” he said.While picturesque Keran and Machhal are located along the Line of Control in Kupwara district, Gurez is a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains in Bandipora district.Kargil and Drass now fall under the Union Territory of Ladakh.Gulmarg, located about 50 km from Srinagar, is one of the best tourist attractions in the country with its snow-clad mountains, magnificent beauty and winter game facilities.The Chief Secretary said the Jammu and Kashmir administration has also intensified construction of rural roads.“Earlier, on an average 1,300 km rural road was built in a year but now we are planning to build 5,000 km rural road in a year,” he said.Referring to the efforts being made for creation of employment opportunities, Subrahmanyam said the administration has plans to create 4-5 lakh jobs in the coming years in sectors like the services and Information Technology (IT).“We have many good doctors, engineers and a huge pool of English knowing people. The potential in Jammu and Kashmir is huge. We will have to just leverage them,” he said.The chief secretary also said the Jammu and Kashmir administration is constructing two huge IT towers with 5 lakh sq feet area in Srinagar and Jammu each.After the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, a total of 2,273 infrastructure projects worth Rs 5,979 crore, which had been pending for over five to ten years, were sanctioned and 506 of them completed.Some of the works done so far include strengthening of the panchayat structure, completion of phase 1 of Jhelum flood mitigation project, creation of 10,000 jobs and opening up of 50 new degree colleges.
Subrahmanyam said the coronavirus pandemic could not hit the agricultural and horticulture sectors much. Nearly 15 lakh families (total 75 lakh people) and about four lakh government employees (total 16 lakh dependents) are dependent on these sectors.However, the sectors badly hit by COVID-19 were tourism, transportation and other business establishments.“People of Jammu and Kashmir are more resilient when it comes to lockdowns, having witnessed many separatist-induced shutdowns in long years. I can say confidently that COVID-19’s impact on Jammu and Kashmir economy will be the least among all states and UTs,” he said.On the now delayed proposed Global Investment Summit, Subrahmanyam said the event may be held in the next financial year in view of COVID-19 situation.
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