Tourists and pilgrims deprived of picnic spots on Jammu-Srinagar stretch
The newly constructed Jammu-Srinagar highway that opened for vehicular movement in March 2015 has brought a new dimension to commuting with four-laned traffic movement making it fast and quick.
This left behind certain important spots bypassed in the process that used to be tourists’ delight while commuting on the old highway.
Nandini and Jhajhharkotli, the two important sojourn spots for the tourists moving from Jammu to Srinagar, had been important stopovers for tourists for many reasons.
Nandini, 28 km from Jammu, the first halting spot for tourists and pilgrims on the old NH1, which used to be the hotspot for selling cheese pakoras and tea, had nearly 20 shops owned by villagers.
Today, all shops are closed, deserted and forlorn as none of the vehicles take the older route while moving to Srinagar.
This has rendered nearly all villagers of Nandini deprived of their livelihood for the one last year and they are jobless today.
No compensation or alternative provision has been provided by the administration to the shop owners.
“The area was entirely dependent on tourists and highway commuters as nearly 10,000 people used to make a halt on a daily basis in the area. Today, I am a conductor with a matador in Jammu. My shop was most visited as local people and commuters used to have tea and cheese pakora there. I was running good business,” said Shanti Swaroop, 42, a native of Nandini village.
The same is the lament of other shop owners of the area, who have taken to petty jobs in Jammu city to earn a livelihood.
Another significant attraction here is Nandini wildlife sanctuary, which houses many endangered animals such as wild boar, goral, monkey, grey langur and leopard.
Rare species of birds are also found in this wildlife sanctuary. These are chakor, chir pheasants, red jungle fowl, pigeon, peafowl, mynah and rock pigeon.
Recent development have caused some adverse effects on the establishment of Nandini wildlife sanctuary.
Four km from Nandini is the summer resort Jhajjharkotli, a venue on the base of the river Jhajjar on the old national highway.
Locals of Jammu had only one such near picnic spot where Sundays used to be heavily packed while all other days witness sizeable number of people thronging the venue and taking a cool dip in running water.
The new NH1 bypassing Jhajjar Kotli has left the picnic spot as a deserted place where no sign of life is witnessed. The Jhajjar, over the years, has turned out to be a dumping site for filth, scum and garbage.
The road reaching the place is a shambles. The state administration needs to revisit the areas for restoring glory of the spots.
Though the four-laning has given a fresh lease of life for vehicular movement, the bypassed picnic spots have been left out of the reach of tourists and pilgrims and deprived local Jammu residents of their access to picnic spots.