Srinagar, Sept 22: On the one hand Tourism Department is floating different packages, incentives to attract youth of Kashmir to venture in tourism sector but on the other hand those working on grass root level are harassed which only leads to mayhem.
A first generation entrepreneur who took the risk of venturing into food and adventure business in one of the upcoming tourist destinations recently brought on the map of J&K Tourism- Doodhpathri Saturday shared his bitter experience with news agency CNS.
Waqas who is running Food courts/Tea coffee shops and ‘All-Terrain Vehicles’ (ATV) in Doodhpathri left his lucrative career in an IT company in Bangalore to pursue his dream of working in tourism sector of Kashmir .However, his dream turned into a nightmare.
It was his biggest mistake to invest in a place like Doodhpathri that cost him heavily because of the pathetic policy of Doodhpathri Development Authority (DDA).
His sufferings started in 2014 when he along with his staff arrived at Doodhpathri and realized the tall claims and support which DDA (Doodhpathri Development Authority) had assured was only a hoax. His tea/coffee shops did not exist anywhere, food courts were in shambles and non functional. ATV routes were not barricaded and heavy traffic was plying on them. Waqas further shared that it has been 4 years and it’s the last year of his contract but ATVs are still lying at his home getting rusted. Same has happened with the food courts which he has been running on losses because of the follies of DDA. “The local road side vendors, who are illegally running business and selling food items have blocked my food courts which has affected my business badly,” Waqas said.
Doodhpathri-Shaliganga route is still open to traffic which was meant only for ATV’s and horses. DDA didn’t put barricades on the route deliberately because the tea/coffee shop situated at Shaliganga, is run by a blue eyed contractor of DDA.
“The contract period of this contractor is already over and has even been served evacuation notice by DDA .However, he’s still running his business without any hassles due to the support of an official which gives a clear indication that if one has to run business in Doodhpathri he has to share a percentage with the authorities,” stated waqas.
This tea/coffee shop is situated along Shaliganga river in the meadows of the forest land due to which the green turf has been destroyed. “One of the meadows which is situated opposite to this tea/coffee shop has been converted into illegal parking lot so that the contractor running tea/coffee shop can be benefitted by the increased influx of tourists resulting from parking in front of the tea point.”
Also Parking lot situated opposite to DDA hutment area has been allotted to an amusement park contractor without following any legal tendering process. However to hide their corruption, a GR was issued to that contractor later on.
Waqas, further said that he has directions from honorable court for running these food courts and tea coffee shops but the department has illegally tried to close them many times using muscle power.
Un till June 2018, despite court orders, ‘I was not allowed to enter premises of my own food courts and tea/coffee shops. Finally in June,2018, I was allowed to start my food courts and tea/coffee shops only when Secretary to Govt, Tourism department intervened. On his directions a meeting was organized in his chamber in which officials of Doodhpathri present agreed that ATVS in Doodpathri couldn’t run because the road was not barricaded by their department and heavy traffic was plying on the road. It was agreed that they will submit a report after which I will be rehabilitated which never happened. Instead of submitting a report, they are adopting unfair means to displace me illegally. Assistant Executive engineer has been continuously threatening me and my staff to vacate the food courts,” he said and sought intervention of Governor Administration.