J&K’s first tourist village rues poor infra, lack of govt support

Arteev Sharma. Updated: 10/1/2022 11:59:14 AM Front Page

With no financial aid, idea of ‘Homestay’ facilities for tourists fails to yield desired results at Panchari

Panchari (Udhampur): Launched with much fanfare a year ago, Jammu and Kashmir’s first tourist village at Panchari in Udhampur district has been facing serious infrastructural deficiencies due to lack of support from the government.
The novel idea of setting up ‘homestay’ facilities in the village, aimed at giving a boost to local tourism and generating employment opportunities for the local youth, has also failed to bring desired results in the village with stakeholders complaining of no financial support from the administration and tourism department.
What is more intriguing is that little has been done on ground to promote local tourism of the village at national level. The village lacks basic facilities, including drinking water for tourists while all roads leading to places with historical relevance and picturesque are either full of potholes or in dilapidated conditions.
In October last year, the then Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langer had launched Jammu and Kashmir’s first “tourist village” at Panchari in Udhampur with homestays. It was claimed that this tourism initiative would strengthen the “rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities”.
Sham Lal, who has created ‘homestay’ facilities in the village, said, “I have built six rooms for homestay. I am planning to raise more structures but unable to carry out constructions due to paucity of funds. The homestay facility brought good response from tourists belonging to different parts of the country last year”.
“We were asked to create homestay facilities at the village but we were not provided any financial support. We have a limited amount of funds with us and we invested it in the project but it is not enough. If the government really wants to have better facilities for tourists at homestays, it needs the government's hand holding,” he added.
The villager said, “The problem of road connectivity to the village from Udhampur is the first biggest challenge for tourists. The road is in bad condition at various stretches which keeps tourists away from village”.
“During their visit, tourists often look for a place which is located amid natural surroundings but at the same time gives them a feeling of home away from home. The facilities of homestay in the village fulfill this requirement of visitors,” Lal said.
Kuldeep Kumar Sharma, local Sarpanch, too flagged off his concerns over the lack of government support to create better facilities for tourists coming to the village.
“Our roads are in dilapidated conditions while other basic facilities required to attract tourists from all over the country are inadequate. The government needs to seriously look into the problems being faced by the local people in creating homestay facilities,” the Sarpanch said.
Pertinently, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha in September 2021 had launched Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth. The initiative was aimed at transforming 75 villages of the Union Territory known for their historical relevance, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance.
Director Tourism Jammu, Vivekanand Rai was unavailable for comments.
Updated On 10/1/2022 12:33:13 PM

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