Chenani-Nashri tunnel to put question mark on its future prospects
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is nearing completion and is expected to be thrown open to traffic in May next year. The new road connectivity has put a big question mark on the future prospects of Patnitop, which will be bypassed.
The successive state governments have abandoned Patnitop and projects for its maintenance and beautification has failed to move beyond paper.
Even the slogan of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is also holding the charge of the Tourism Ministry, to make Jammu an independent tourist destination is yet to see the light of the day. Projects like ropeway to Nathatop, toy train in Patnitop and connecting Mantalai with Patnitop through cable car failed to get materialised.
Once the Chenani-Nashri tunnel is thrown open to the traffic, road connectivity to Patnitop, which is already in a shambles, will get further deteriorated as it will not remain with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for maintenance.
Situated at a height of 2,024 m, Patnitop is 112 km from Jammu. This is the most famous tourist resort of the Jammu region. This being the nearest tourist station for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, pilgrims from outside the state used to visit the place and come back to Jammu in a single day.
Schools from Jammu, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar used to take their students for a picnic to Patnitop. But all this has come down drastically and now very few people visit the area as it is not maintained properly. Not a single step of beautification has been taken by the Tourism Department to attract tourists and sell Patnitop at national and international level.
“Within five years, you will see Jammu becoming an independent tourist destination. We are working on multiple projects, but they will take time to get materialised,” said Farooq Ahmed Shah, secretary, Tourism.
He said not only Patnitop but also all tourist destinations of Jammu were being paid proper attention.
When asked whether all these projects were only on papers and nothing has been done on ground, he said, “These projects don’t get completed in days, but take time.”