Suchetgarh can be JK’s Wagah, says Mufti

CM inspects tourism, sports projects; visits ITIs, Polytechnics

In a significant announcement, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Friday, said he will vigorously pursue with the Centre the issue of projecting Suchetgarh as a people-to-people meeting point across the International Border (IB).

He also announced slew of measures to promote Suchetgarh as a border tourist destination, on pattern of Wagah, in Amritsar. “With improvement in overall situation, we can also explore the option of promoting Suchetgarh as a trading point with the neighbouring country,” he stated.

         The Chief Minister made these observations during his tour of Suchetgarh today. During the tour, he also inspected various ongoing works for creation of tourism and sports infrastructure, besides visiting several technical education institutes in the winter capital. 

Besides Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Kavinder Gupta, Minister for IT, YS&S and Technical Education, Imran Raza Ansari, Legislators, Sham Chaudhary, Gagan Baghat and Ramesh Arora, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, IG, BSF, Jammu, Rakesh Sharma and Secretary Tourism, Farooq. A. Shah, were also present on the occasion.

Immediately on his arrival at Suchetgarh, the Chief Minister was given a ceremonial guard-of-honour by a contingent of BSF Personnel. He also went around the border outpost and saw many utilities.    

Describing Suchetgarh as ideally located for border tourism, Mufti Sayeed said he will approach the Ministry of Home Affairs to explore the possibility of bringing Suchetgarh within the ambit of cross-border trade and travel, which, he said is a huge confidence building measure between India and Pakistan.

Mufti Sayeed, during his previous visits to Salamabad (Baramulla) and Chakan da Bagh(Poonch), had expressed desire to broaden the scope of existing cross-LoC trade and travel. For this, all connected issues in the meetings of Joint Working Group are discussed between India and Pakistan from time-to-time.  

The Chief Minister said the government will work to create additional facilities to increase footfall of tourists to Suchetgarh. “It will be ultimate if we are able to achieve a breakthrough (with Pakistan) in opening up Suchetgarh as an industrial trading point with Sialkot, across the border,” he said, while interacting with media-persons on the sidelines of his visit.

Mufti Sayeed also referred to the times when people from both sides of the border would meet because of which this place used to be abuzz with activity.  

The Chief Minister issued directions for setting up of an amusement park and musical fountains to make the destination more attractive. He also passed instructions for taking up with BRO (Border Roads Organization) the four-laning of 7-km road stretch between R. S. Pura and Suchetgarh, to make the travel of the visitors to the border town more comfortable.

It was given out that some government land is already available, but to create adequate infrastructure for developing Suchetgarh as a tourist destination, even proprietary land may also be required to be acquired. The Tourism Department was instructed to work out the requirement of land for executing this project.

The Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, assured that the acquisition of land would be done on a fast-track basis.

Mufti Sayeed was also briefed about the broad contours of the Ministry of Tourism’s (MoT) Swadesh Darshan Scheme for development of Suchetgarh as a border destination. The project, sanctioned at a cost of Rs.4.92 crore, envisages restoration of old Octroi post (built during British Era), construction of multi-purpose hall, development of pond and landscaping of the lawns.

Situated along the Indo-Pak International Border in R. S. Pura sector, Suchetgarh is only at a distance of 28 km from the winter capital. Jammu tourism will receive a huge fillip when Suchetgarh is further promoted as a border destination in the region.

During his brief interaction with media-persons, the Chief Minister allayed fears on Jammu losing focus after direct train service to Katra. He said government will work to diversify its efforts in promoting Jammu as an independent tourist destination.

The Chief Minister also inspected two other projects sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism under Himalayan Circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Jammu city.

He first arrived at Bagh-e-Bahu, where Musical Water Fountains with Sound-and-Light Show will be set up at a cost of Rs. 10.82 crore. He passed instructions for installing durable deodar/teakwood seating, which goes with the ambience of one of Jammu’s best recreational destinations. Besides the laser fountain show, the project comprises construction of air-conditioned viewing gallery and solar illumination of entire premises.

The Chief Minister was told that the work on this project will be completed by 18thDecember, next year.

Later the Chief Minister also inspected the site for Amusement Water Park on reclaimed land, in proximity of Sidhra Golf Course. The project has been sanctioned by MoT at a cost of Rs.8 crore and envisages food courts, gazebos, open-air theatre, landscaping and souvenir kiosks.   

During his visit to various institutions imparting technical education, Mufti Sayeed called for bridging the gap between skill and jobs for which, he said, concerted efforts are required for starting market-oriented courses. He also passed instructions for optimally utilizing the intake capacity of market-driven courses to enhance the coverage of training in such segments.

He visited Government & Women’s Polytechnic Institutes and Government and Women’s ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) and interacted with students, who are pursuing diploma and short-term courses in automobile and mechanical engineering, basic cosmetology, computer and electronics, pre-school teaching, medical technology and textiles.

Apart of automobile and mechanical engineering, the Chief Minister instructed Director, Technical Education, to focus on traditional craft like Basohli shawl weaving & painting andPhulkari.

The government recently sanctioned Skill Development Mission, which is headed by the Chief Minister, to provide broad policy guidelines to close gaps and focus on specific skills in four broad categories including handicraft, traditional and modern trades and agriculture-based enterprises.     

While taking firsthand appraisal of ongoing works on sports infrastructure, the Chief Minister first visited K. K. Hakhu Hockey Stadium. He was briefed about the construction of a pavilion, spread over 6641 sq. ft., for which a project worth Rs.1.35 crore has been envisaged.

Mufti Sayeed also inspected construction work at Indoor Sports Stadium at M.A.M. College, which has been sanctioned by the Union Sports Ministry at a cost of Rs.6.42 crore. The work on the project is expected to be completed by March next year.

The Chief Minister also visited the upgraded swimming pool in M.A.M. College, on which Rs.1.75 crore have been spent. The pool, which is laced with all modern facilities, is equipped to host national events which will allow our athletes to compete with the best talent in the country.

Also present were Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh, Secretary to the Chief Minister, M. H. Malik, Director, Tourism, Jammu, R. K. Verma, Director Technical Education, Shabnam Kamili, ADC, Jammu, Arun Manhas and Secretary Sports Council, Javed Ahmad Shah.