Parliamentary committee arrives in Kashmir to “build confidence”

Published : January 22, 2021 16:38 IST

Members of the delegation –T.G. Venkatesh (left), Jitendra Singh (centre) and Farooq Abdullah (right) – at the committee's first meeting in Srinagar on January 21. Photo: Nissar Ahmad / The Hindu

In a first-of-its-kind initiative in Kashmir, following the abrogation of Article 370, a parliamentary committee arrived in Srinagar on Thursday to hold deliberations with stakeholders. The 31-member delegation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Rajya Sabha member T.G. Venkatesh, is on a three-day visit and scheduled to hold deliberations with representatives of tourism, culture, roads, and transport sectors. The committee will review and examine the status of highways/State highways, potential and promotion of the tourism sector, and preservation of archaeological and heritage sites in Jammu and Kashmir. Emphasising that the committee is in Kashmir to understand the problems faced by the people and remedy them, committee chairman Venkatesh told the media that "We are here to create confidence and build trust."

Venkatesh described Kashmir as a "beautiful place" and its people as "lovable", and claimed that "more tourists are coming to Kashmir—both domestic and foreigners.” He said that the Valley was badly affected on the developmental front. “Today, we met hoteliers, transporters, traders and tour operators. We can’t reveal things before the media. We will brief the Government of India about the problems being faced by the people associated with the tourism,” he said.

Venkatesh assured stakeholders about the inflow of investments. "Global and national level investors would soon come here and invest. There will be local development on all fronts,” he said.

The stakeholders who participated in the committee’s deliberations, raised a number of people’s issues such as frequent closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the pending revival and renovation of houseboats, and the interruption of power supply to hotels. The stakeholders also demanded enhancement in Central Government funds, financial packages for artisans, train connectivity, promotion of tourist destinations, medical tourism promotion, and preservation of cultural and heritage.

The committee members said all the genuine issues would be taken up at the appropriate level for resolution. Venkatesh said Union Minister Jitendra Singh and former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah are also scheduled to attend the committee's meetings.