With the authorities making Dachigam National Park ‘out of bounds’ for visitors, the move has irked the local tour and travel operators who say their tour itineraries have been disturbed.
“Many of our clients who go to Dachigam park return disappointed,” the tour operators said.
“We are being told the closure has been ordered by the CM office. But we wonder why no prior intimation was given to us,” they said, adding that a prior intimation about the park closure “would have guided us not to include Dachigam visit in our tour packages,” said Nasir Shah of CNE Luxury Holidays.
According to Manzoor Pakhtoon, President of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance, despite making an appeal to Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed for reopening of the park, “no heed has been paid to our pleas.”
Ramesh Wattal, a Delhi-based tour operator who holds regular tourist visits to the Valley said the park closure has thrown travel schedule of a tourist group handled by him from Germany into frenzy.
“All the promotion done by us to promote Dachigam has gone waste. How will we face our clients who have come all the way to see the park? We have three more foreigners arriving in September and hope the park is open by then,” Wattal said.
However, Abdul Rauf, Wildlife Warden, Dachigam National Park said the park has been temporarily closed for visitors “so that the animals and birds don’t get perturbed amid extreme heat conditions due to public interference.”
The park closed on August 15, he assured, “will be reopened in next 10-15 days.”
Rauf said: “In view of the peak summer and keeping into consideration the welfare of the animals, the visitors are being restrained from visiting the park.”
“Many animals go to higher reaches in peak summers, so there is no point of allowing tourists. Park closure is a normal routine and there is no question of tourists getting annoyed. The closure is well planned because for any park visit we need an application at least a month in advance,” Rauf said.