Srinagar: In the past two months, the UT administration of Jammu and Kashmir took many decisions to try to revive the economy and main sectors like tourism. Most of such decisions by senior officers remained on paper as the ground realities scripted their demise.
While bureaucrats talk big about the revival of tourism in Kashmir, local stakeholders want them to take tiny steps even for their survival. “After the three-month-long lockdown, the tourist season of 2020 is over. There should be some commitment from the Central government for a revival-cum-stimulus package for us,” said Abdul Ahad Bhat, a local hotelier who is without business for the past 13 months.
“The Central government should include the tourism sector of Kashmir in a scheme for MSMEs so that tourism players are helped here from the Union Government’s 2 lakh crore stimulus package announced for MSMEs post the Covid lockdown,” a senior official in J&K administration said. But locals connected to the tourist trade want immediate relief like monthly packages from the local administration. “Recently, the J&K administration called us and said that they will give us Rs 1,000 per month, but we rejected this offer. Even a beggar cannot survive on this money,” said Sheikh Imran, a local Shikara Walla in Dal Lake. Even small hoteliers of Kashmir want immediate reimbursement of GST, one-time waiver to them for the pending power tariff dues, moratorium on their credit and fresh soft low interest loans. Local houseboat owners and hoteliers are puzzled by the “one step forward, two steps back policy’’ of the UT administration. “On the one hand, they cancelled the annual Amarnath Yatra; on the other hand, they are lifting a ban on tourist arrivals. On top of it, they have re-imposed lockdown. We have failed to understand what they want to do,” said Abdul Khaliq Bhat, a local hotelier in Srinagar.
There are media reports that the J&K administration was divided into two camps ready to outwit each other on the ground, especially in Kashmir valley. With Amaranth Yatra cancelled, the UT administration on Wednesday took another decision to re-impose strict lockdown for six days on the eve of Eid-ul Adha to flatten the curve of growing coronavirus cases here.