New Delhi, Nov. 26
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today sought involvement of Indian Railways in promoting tourism and handicrafts of Jammu & Kashmir by introducing JK-specific linkages on many of its product portfolios. She also sought early completion of rail projects in the State.
Interacting with Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu here today, the Chief Minister said Jammu & Kashmir has been bestowed with huge tourism potential and varied and quality handicrafts but due to inadequate linkages to potential buyers and customers the market potential has not yet been properly tapped. She said Indian Railways with its extensive networks and customer base could become a game-changer for the State in this connection.
Spelling out her ideas, Mehbooba Mufti requested providing stalls at various Railway Stations to showcase the handicraft products from the State. She also suggested introduction of products from J&K on the portal of Indian Railways and inclusion of Kashmiri cuisine in Railway menu. This, she said, would introduce crafts and cuisine of the State among a vast population of railway passengers.
Mehbooba Mufti also sought support of the Railways in promoting tourism in the State. She requested running of tourism special trains and increasing frequency of many other already running trains to the State. She suggested adding Glass Top Railway Coaches in trains operating within the State to let the passengers enjoy the scenery and flora and fauna of Jammu & Kashmir onboard. She also suggested introduction of see-through luxury trains from Qazigund to Baramulla and Jammu to Katra to familiarize tourists with the Natural beauty of the State and attract more of them.
The Chief Minister requested the Union Minister for starting a Jammu to Amritsar train in the morning and Amritsar to Jammu train in the evening besides running special trains from Mumbai, Kolkatta, Ahmadabad etc. during peak tourist season to enhance the tourist footfall to the State. She also requested changing the timings of Delhi-Jammu Shatabdi Express to promote tourists to spend atleast a day at Jammu. She also requested for connecting more and more tourist spots in the State with railway network in the State.
About the ongoing Railway projects in the State, the Chief Minister requested expediting work on Jammu-Srinagar rail link which she said on completion would not only improve connectivity to Kashmir Valley but also improve the trade and social connectivity between people of Jammu and Kashmir regions. She also requested inclusion of more stops on the Banihal-Baramulla track and creation of more job opportunities for the youth of the State in Railway infrastructure in the State.
Responding to the suggestions and requests made by the Chief Minister, Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu appreciated the Chief Minister for seeking Railway’s involvement in promoting J&K and its trades. He said that his Department would take concrete measures to translate her suggestions into action.
The Railway Minister assured the Chief Minister that work on the Katra-Banihal section of the Jammu-Srinagar rail line would be put on fast mode to get it completed at the earliest. He said he is seized of the importance of connecting Jammu and Kashmir via rail in view of a difficult road link presently. “Already rail service has been extended to Katra from Jammu side and upto Banihal from Kashmir side and work on the remaining patch would be put on fast forward mode”, he added.
Prabhu assured Mehbooba Mufti that work on many of her suggestions would start soon. He said Glass Top Railway Coaches would be introduced in the State within a year and also possibilities would be explored to introduce Valley on Wheels in the State.
As a token of gift to the children of the State, the Railway Minister announced running of a fortnightly train service exclusively for children to provide them more opportunities of outing.