Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, today called upon Union Minister of State for Tourism, Mahesh Sharma and discussed the issue of development of seven lakes of Pir Panchal, Pilgrimage Tourist Circuit and Heritage Development Authority for Rajouri-Poonch belt.During the meeting, the Minister presented a 50-page memorandum about the overall tourism potential of Rajouri-Poonch area which is surrounded by lush-green mountains. He said the region of seven lakes starts from the top of Bharamgala (Chai) mountain and it goes up to Raviwali Dhok which is touching the last corner of Budhal Tehsil. The region is situated at about 10,000-15000 feet above sea level.The lakes include Nandansar, Chandansar, Sukhsar, Baghsar, Akaldakshni, Neelsar and Gumsar. The Minister said if these lakes are brought into the tourism circuit of the State, it will open new vistas for economic empowerment of the region. He sought a special package from the Government of India on the issue.He said the J&K has already taken up the issue with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 2 last year who assured all possible help.
Raising the issue of Pilgrimage Tourism, the Minister demanded Union Government to start Pilgrimage Tourist Circuit in the region to provide better connectivity for religious shrines of Rajouri Poonch districts.He said Rajouri and Poonch are having revered religious places of all communities and tourists can be diverted from Budha Amar Ji Yatra, Shri Mata Vaishnu Devi Yatra Katra and Shiv Khori towards Mangla Mata Shrine and very famous Budha Amarnath Ji Shrine at Mandi Poonch.He said they can also divert pilgrims visiting shrines in Kashmir towards famous Ziyarat of Hazrat Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah at Shahdra Sharief, Rajouri, Baba Miran Sain Baksh Sahib, Poonch and Peer Chooty Shah Ziyarat at Mendher.The Minister also took up the issue of Separate Heritage Tourism Development Authority for Rajouri-Poonch Districts. He said there is a huge tourism potential in heritage sector in Poonch and Rajouri as there are many archaeological remains in the region including Sarais, Mosques, Temples, Royal Palaces, Forts and Gardens of different periods ranging from Kushan to the Medieval Period which can be developed.He said these monuments are on the verge of extinction and if developed, they can open a new era of Heritage Tourism in Jammu & Kashmir and change the economic landscape of the region. Mr Zulfkar also asked the Government of India to provide special package for Adventure Tourism in the region.Union Minister of State for Tourism, Mahesh Sharma, gave a patient hearing to all the demands and assured that the GoI will provide every possible assiatnce to develop Rajouri-Poonch region.