Srinagar, May 16 : Jammu and Kashmir's tourism department is all set to re-open Nageen Club after two decades, reviving the memories of 1940 when the British instituted it to promote social interaction and recreation.
Thanks to the initiative of the Department of Tourism and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Nageen Club is all set to regain its past glory.
Located at the valley's famous Nageen Lake, the club was once the pride of Srinagar with a large number of houseboats and beautiful Chinar trees all around. It ceased to function due to militancy in the State in early 90's.
The club will have a banquet hall, restaurant, tennis court, a squash court and a health club. Everything will be available under one roof in this club.
"I can use one sentence that the paradise has been regained. There are several facilities and we have been trying to develop some new facilities which would be good for the tourists and required in a place like Kashmir. Nageen Club is also one such facility. Tourism Department has taken over the club," said Sarmad Hafeez, Joint Director for Kashmir Tourism.
"Our work is going on and hopefully by next month, we will have the club ready," he added.
The restoration and revival of the Nageen Club complex would cost rupees 70 million to the exchequer and has been approved by Jammu and Kashmir government.
Under the ongoing project, besides redoing the club's building, the vast expanse of lawns spreading over 35 canals are being developed and two public parks laid out near the Ashaibagh Bridge.
Local residents have hailed the step. The believe that it would not only help in restoring the old glory but would also provide ample scopes of employment for local youths and contribute to economy of the valley.
"We feel that it would be better than earlier times. The way work is going on here and the interest that the State tourism department is showing towards it looks to be even better," opined Mehrajudin Shah, a resident.
Residents believe the Nageen club after opening would draw more tourists to the valley.
"It would be very good. As the tourists would come here it would benefit all of us. They will spend money here and the income of Shikarawalas, taxiwallas and hotel owners would increase. They would even open up employment opportunities," said Ghulam Mohidin, another resident.
The development of Nandpora Festival Area across the Nageen Lake is also a part of the project where facilities would be created for artisans on the pattern of Surajkund in Haryana where an annual Mela (fair) is an event of international significance.
The reopening is believed to strengthen tourism in Kashmir.
Since late '80s, the Nageen Club was occupied by personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), deployed in the Kashmir valley to counter increasing activities of militants. By Afzal Butt