The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration has begun constructing infrastructure under the Prime Minister Development Project at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore. The project is being executed by the Kokernag Development Authority for new huts, cafeterias, resorts and tourist facilitation centres.
Dr Piyush Singla, Anantnag Deputy Commissioner, told ANI that a proposal of a tunnel has been submitted which will give Kokernag round-the-year connectivity. Describing Kokernag as a very beautiful area, he said many assets are being created here by the Kokernag Development Authority to make it a point of attraction for tourists. “The whole district of Anantnag has many tourist points but specially Kokernag, Daksum, Sinthan can be turned into a famous tourist destination,” Singla said.
The district authorities are also planning a tourist festival. “Someone brought up the demand for holding a tourist festival in Kokernag,” the Singla said. “We will surely take up this matter with the tourist department so that maximum tourists pour in. Even a proposal of a tunnel was submitted which will give the area round-the-year connectivity.”
Kokernag is a one of the popular weekend getaways just a couple of hours drive from summer capital Srinagar. It’s located at an altitude of about 2012 meters above the sea level. Manzoor Ahmad, a hotel owner, commended the development authority for the great work. “I have full faith that tourists will come here,” he said. Youths in the area also have chances of employment with the current development projects.
Another local, Jan Muhammad said some new huts have been constructed and more are coming up. “They have also made some viewpoints in Daksum area. I really appreciate the work being done here,” he said.
Meanwhile, the J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has announced a Rs 3 crore relief package for people associated with the tourism sector. Under this package, Rs 2,000 financial assistance will be provided to 4,444 registered Shikara owners, 1,370 tourist guides, 6,663 ponywalas and 2,150 others including those who rent palanquins for yatris. The money will be paid for two months. However, the package does not have anything for travel agents, owners of Kashmir’s famed houseboats, hotels and transport operators.
J&K’s tourism sector has been in a bad shape for the last two years, since the abrogation of Article 370 and then the COVID-19 pandemic.