Satpal talks of promoting skiing, Cong says focus on Char Dham

dehradun Updated: Apr 22, 2017 20:10 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times

Tourism minister Satpal recently met Union minister Mahesh Sharma and sought funds for developing Uttarakhand as a winter tourist destination.(HT Photo)

The Congress has suggested the government to focus on preparations of the Char Dham yatra first instead of toying with the idea of starting skiing during winters in Uttarakhand.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat had started working on making the Char Dham yatra accessible to tourists during winters. But, not much was done as Uttarakhand went to polls and a new government came to power.

“Preparations of the Char Dham yatra is too weak, and he (tourism minister Satpal) is talking of winter tourism. I suggest him to first concentrate on the tourist season. From securing lives of tourists not only coming to Char Dham but to other parts also to checking road accidents, there’s a lot that the government has to focus rather than finding revenue avenues in winter tourism,” Congress state president Kishore Upadhyay said.

Recently, Satpal met Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma and sought funds for developing Uttarakhand as a winter tourist destination. He particularly sought funds for skiing through which he aims to provide employment to locals, thereby check migration. Skiing is popular in Auli where it is held from December to March.

“Our state has lot of possibilities in skiing. There are other snow clad areas that could be developed for this adventure sport. As far as security of tourists is concerned, we will ensure that too,” Satpal told Hindustan Times.

But the tourism minister, who reviewed preparations of Kedarnath on Friday, accepted that security of pilgrims during summer and monsoon is a difficult task.

In the 2013 flash floods, the government did not have a database of pilgrims when calamity struck Kedarnath Valley. After this, the erstwhile government started working on maintaining database and now BJP government is ensuring registering identity of pilgrims. Though the routes to Kedarnath are reconstructed, a section of tourists prefer aerial route to skip the 16 km-trek from Gaurikund to Kedarnath that was washed away during the disaster.

Skiing requires snowcapped areas. Apart from distance, security of tourists remains a concern. “Auli is not a new winter tourist destination. It has been there since the Raj days. So, it is developed and has facilities. Developing new destinations on the name of winter tourism will be risky. We need to have facilities and support system,” activist Dinesh Pandey said.

First Published: Apr 22, 2017 20:10 IST