The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole today visited Sonamarg where he chaired a high level meeting of officers to review winter preparedness for keeping Sonamarg open during the winters.
At the outset, threadbare discussion was held regarding the necessary preparations and arrangements including water, electricity, health, road, fire service, snow clearing operation, mobile communication, traffic management, firewood and other related facilities to be put in place for keeping Sonamarg open during the winters.
To promote Sonamarg as winter tourist destination, the Div Com said that it is imperative to have all facilities available to the tourists especially heating arrangements in hotels, water and electricity besides proper plan for its promotion at all levels as a winter destination so that tourists can have the best experience here.
He directed the Director Tourism Kashmir and CEO, SDA to devise a proper mechanism for its wide publicity as a winter tourist destination.The CEO, SDA was also directed to finalize the rates of hotels taking hoteliers on board which shall be distinct as compared to other winter destinations and notify the same by 15th November.
While reviewing the arrangements, the Div Com directed all the officers to ensure all arrangements pertaining to their departments shall be put in place in the first week of November besides manpower must be deputed on rotational basis by all departments who shall be stationed at Sonamarg during winter.
Chief Engineer Jal Shakti Department Kashmir was directed to complete the work on water supply scheme in Thajiwas area besides any issues hampering the progress shall be taken up with the concerned department so that laying of underground pipes is completed in first week of November and all establishments are provided water supply during winter.
Regarding electricity, Chief Engineer, KPDCL (Distribution) said that to provide electricity to the establishment at Sonamarg during the winters, tendering process is initiated for underground cabling that needs to be laid through Z-morh tunnel tube.
The Div Com directed him to ensure electricity to Sonamarg is provided during the forthcoming winter without interruption and keep gensets dumped at Sonamarg that can be used during emergency situations.
Regarding mobile connectivity, the officials of Jio, Airtel and BSNL service providers were directed to prepare an action plan to ensure all mobile towers in the area remain functional during winters.Similarly, the Health Department was directed to ensure all health facilities including heating arrangements at PHC Sonamarg are kept available including sufficient medical and paramedical staff, medicine and ambulance service during the winters as well.
He also asked them to organize a First Aid training session for all stakeholders and individuals involved in the tourist trade in Sonamarg. Besides, CEO SDA was asked to organize a workshop with hoteliers regarding the precautions to be taken during winters.
Threadbare discussion was also held on the snow clearance plan. The Div Com sought details regarding the availability of machinery and directed all the concerned departments including BRO, MED and NHIDCL to ensure that sufficient machinery and manpower are deployed for clearing of snow during the winter as per snow clearance operation on identified routes during the winter.
Earlier, the Div Com also inspected the work progress on the Z-morh tunnel and was briefed about the preparations for allowing traffic through the escape tunnel during winter.On the occasion, the Div. Com directed the Executive Director, NHIDCL (projects) to ensure all necessary works including drainage and lighting inside the tunnel are completed in the second week of November so that traffic is allowed through the tunnel by 15th November.
Meanwhile, Hotelier Association Sonamarg and other stakeholders also raised several issues for which the Div Com said that purpose of holding meeting was to redress the issues faced during winter in Sonamarg and in this regard all facilities and arrangements would be put in place and all the departments are given necessary instructions in this regard.
He urged hoteliers/shopkeepers to upgrade their infrastructure as per the weather conditions in the area so that the tourists visiting Sonamarg during winters are provided better facilities and shall not face any inconvenience.
He suggested them to offer special packages which are exclusively for the tourists visiting Sonamarg to attract more tourists.The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal; Director, Tourism Kashmir; Managing Director, JKTDC; Chief Engineer, KPDCL; Chief Engineer, Mechanical; Chief Engineer, R&B; CEO SDA; President Hotelier Association Sonamarg, President Beopar Mandal Sonamarg, various Officers/Officials of District Administration and other stakeholders.