Discussing a possible route for Amarnath via Kargil: Prahlad Patel
- Union minister for culture and tourism Prahlad Patel said government is addressing the lack of adventure sports equipment in Kargil.
Union minister for culture and tourism Prahlad Patel spoke to Deeksha Bhardwaj about the Central government’s plans to address the development imbalance between Leh and Kargil, and talks on mapping a new Amarnath Yatra route via Kargil instead of Srinagar, among other issues. Edited excerpts:
There is large gap between development in Leh and Kargil. How does the government plan to address that?
You have caught the core issue. The difference in development existed when Jammu & Kashmir was a state. It is true that it has been discriminated against. Ever since it has become a UT, we have addressed many problems such as a weak bureaucracy an easing clearance norms. We are setting up a branch of the Indian Institute of Skiing and mountaineering, Gulmarg, here as well. The institute may be named after Subhas Chandra Bose -- talks are on.
Opposition parties have accused BJP of playing vote-bank politics using Bose ahead of the Bengal elections. Your response to that?
We celebrated Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary. Those making these allegations, whether it is Congress, TMC or the Left, should answer why they never honoured Bose. It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who spearheaded the move to celebrate his anniversary as Parakram Diwas every year, and inaugurated its first edition. No other PM has become a chairman for any board other than the one set up for Mahatma Gandhi. This is the first time. The Opposition should tell us what they have done so far.
The government talks about making Kargil an adventure sports destination, but locals say they face an equipment crunch?
The government is addressing the lack of equipment in Kargil. I met Mohammed Mehdi, the 10-year-old who wishes to play in the Winter Olympics. The government will fully sponsor his training. It is true that it will take some time to reach international standards, but we are working in that direction.
Are there plans to promote tourism in Kargil?
Once the Zojila tunnel is completed, Kargil’s situation will be completely altered. We are also discussing a possible route for the Amarnath pilgrimage via Kargil, instead of Srinagar. It is a more scenic and comfortable route.
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