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No signs of reconstructing TRC as yet

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Srinagar, Apr 6 (UNI) Exactly a year ago, militants struck at the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) here in a big way on the eve of the launch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and after hours of gunfight the historic building was razed to the ground.

But a year on, nothing has changed...Only the rubble has been removed. There are no signs of the building being reconstructed in the immediate future.

The foundation stone of the TRC building, which was laid by the then Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad on November 6, 1955, stands testimony to the structure that existed there till the afternoon of August 6 last year.

However, the authorities are hopeful that a new structure would soon be constructed at the same site.

Talking to UNI, Director General of the state Tourism Department Mohammad Saleem Beigh said the reconstruction work of the TRC would soon start.

''We are planning to evacuate the complex area. The workshop and the garage of the State Road Transport Corporation besides the engineering wing would have to be shifted before the commencement of the reconstruction work,'' he added.

Mr Beigh dismissed media reports suggesting that a hotel or a shopping complex would be constructed at the site.

''A structure providing composite facilities to the tourists would only be built at the site. The reports that TRC will be shifted are also not true,'' he added.

The Director General said only tourist-related activities will be held in the building.

''The building will have a TRC, counters for tourists, banking, transport and other tourist related facilities,'' he added.

Mr Beigh said all those offices which do not directly deal with the tourists would be shifted from the area.

The SRTC's pick and drop facilities would remain, but the yard will go, he added.

Militants had launched a fidayeen (suicide) attack on the TRC complex at 1555 hrs on April 6 last year, barely a few hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to flag off the inagural run of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service (Karvaan-e-Aman).

Several government employees were wounded in the three-hour-long gunbattle and the fire that followed which completely destroyed the two-storeyed heritage building.

Offices of the state Tourism Department, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC), Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC), Fisheries Department, Wildlife Protection Department, city office of Indian Airlines, branches of two banks and a JKTDC restaurant were completely gutted in the devastating fire. Over a dozen parked vehicles were also damaged.

Officials had admitted that no records could be saved as it took the flames minutes to engulf the whole wooden structure.

UNI AG RR RAI1950

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