Delayed already because of the Lok Sabha elections, the summer tourism to Kangra and Chamba now is hit by bad roads.
Almost all routes to the two picturesque valleys bordering Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir are dotted with potholes. Driving on the Nag rota-Mubarkpur, Pathankot-Shimla, PathankotMandi and Pathankot-Chamba national highways is a nightmare, while the link between Dharamsala and McLeodganj, abode of the Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama, is in its worst-ever shape.
There could be no start-ofthe-season patchwork by the public works department (PWD) because of the model code of conduct for the parliamentary elections. Besides, the PWD also was short of money.
The Centre and the state sat on the department proposals for one reason or the other, so the work could not get on. “Now the tourist season is on and the roads are not ready. I see a bad year ahead for the hospitality industry,” said Dharamsala hotelier Ashwini Sharma.
Bad roads not only make the journey difficult but also cause traffic chaos. “Tourists who travel long distance prefer destinations that are well connected,” said Sharma. Travel agent Prem Sagar said when the small roads to unexplored destinations were broken, how would the state government promote rural tourism.
“This year the conditions seems to be worst, since not a single road has been repaired,” said Sagar, adding that the Kangra valley was important from the religious tourism point of view as well, as it was the location of the Jwalamukhi and Brajeshwari shrines.
Tourism, one of the l argest sources of revenue for the Himachal Pradesh government, brings avenues of self- employment to the state’s youth . Because of limited air connectivity, the state depends of its roads to bring in tourists. “That infrastructure is neglected for years, and we keep losing tourists to the neighboring states,” said Sagar.