Commercial Rafting suspended in Pahalgam in J

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Srinagar, May 12 (UNI) Commercial rafting, one of the attractions for adventure lovers and tourists in world famous Pahalgam, has been suspended following orders by local development authority.

''We have suspended the river rafting, a popular sport, because of unnecessary restriction imposed by the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA),'' said a spokesman of the local rafting companies who claimed to have invested Rs two crores on the project.

He said the local tour operators have been operating commercial rafting on the water of river Lidder since 2004, which helped to revive the much needed adventure tourism in the valley.

Rafting is a water based activity undertaken on running rivers or in wild waters in a rubberized inflatable boat. Manned by trained river guides, this activity is popular all over the world and is attracting more tourists to such destinations, where river rafting is possible.

He said in Kashmir all the adventure activities are looked after by the Tourism Department, but surprisingly, the Development authorities of different resorts are unnecessarily creating hurdles in the promotion of the tourism.

Spokesman said Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of some development authorities are engineers, KAS or belongs to any other category, with least knowledge about Adventure tourism.

He said the Tourism Department Kashmir had issued permissions to 13 local Rafting Companies for operating this much demanding tourist product at Pahalgam from May I 2008.

''But, to our dismay, the PDA had planned to put the river to tender which was neither agreed by the Tourism Department nor by Rafting Companies,'' he said.

After solving the dispute, the Tourism Department finally issued permissions in favour of 13 companies, but unfortunately, the PDA has not allowed the operators to undertake this tourist activity in their jurisdiction till date, instead the rafting companies have been asked to operate it at Yennar village which is about 18 kms down to Pahalgam.

There is no safety and security arrangements available there, he said, adding, this segment of the river is not feasible for commercial rafting at all.

He said the companies have engaged nearly 150 river guides and Rafting companies and other Travel Agencies have already sold this tourist product to their counterparts in the country and abroad.

They appealed to Chief Minister, tourism minister and other intervene and save this adventure sports.

UNI BAS BJR DB1251

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