Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a new era of limitless possibilities of growth and peace after sustained efforts of the government to ensure the isolation of terror ecosystem that was being supported from across the border, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said at a G20 meeting in Srinagar on Tuesday.
Addressing delegates from various countries on the second day of the meeting of the G20 tourism working group, Sinha flagged the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and dwelt on the development initiatives undertaken by the government in the region, besides the opening of Jammu and Kashmir for the film industry and the rising foreign investments.
Jammu and Kashmir, known for the peaceful co-existence of almost all religious sects, "had to suffer state-sponsored terrorism by our neighbouring country", Sinha said without naming Pakistan.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development schemes, which empowered masses and Union Territory's effective administration, "ensured isolation of the terror eco-system which thrived with the support from across the border", he said.
"Jammu Kashmir is witnessing a new era that has opened limitless possibilities of growth and peace. Now even foreign investments are also coming into Jammu and Kashmir, green shoots of better times people are anxiously looking up to," Sinha said during his address at the SKICC, the venue for the third G-20 meeting on tourism.
The meeting is being held under tight security and security forces have ensured that the nefarious plans of terror groups are defeated. The two roads - which approach the meeting venue - have been sealed. Checkpoints have been erected at many places in the city here and security forces personnel were undertaking random checking and frisking of vehicles.
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Sinha, while running the delegates through broad contours, said that "our deep dive initiatives demonstrate" India's resolve that Jammu Kashmir should also benefit from the virtues of democracy like the rest of the states and Union Territory.
"Equally pertinent is that tourism cannot grow in isolation. The economics of it is fine, that tourism needs good infrastructure, sound policies and effective and responsive administration.
"No less fundamental to me is the fact that only peace and happiness of people can bring warmth in the hospitality, we Indians eternally enjoy. And, I would like to mention here that tourism in Jammu Kashmir is also a reflection of the multi-religious and multi-cultural ethos of India," he said.
Sinha said Prime Minister Modi has eliminated injustice, exploitation and discrimination which several sections of society faced for seven long decades owing to circumstances that evolved mostly because of orchestration from abroad.
J-K stands among the developed regions of India on some measurable milestones, and "we are committed to people's prosperity both economically and socially," he said.
Grassroots democracy has been strengthened, new industries are coming up, rapid agricultural growth is making our villages prosperous, infrastructure development is progressing rapidly and our emphasis on technology is transforming J-K into a digital society, he added.
Referring to the boom in tourism, Sinha said last year a record of over 18 million tourists visited the union territory. Tourism contributed more than seven per cent to J-K's GDP last year, he added.
The LG said more than 300 films were shot in J-K last year and after a long pause of almost four decades, J-K has revived its relationship with Bollywood and launched a film policy in 2021 to attract more investment into the film sector and to make Jammu Kashmir the most popular film shooting destination.
"I am confident that under the PM's leadership, J-K will soon find its place in the top 50 destinations of the world and will be on the bucket list of travellers across the globe," he said.
Union Tourism Minister G K Reddy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh as well as Indian emissary to the G-20 Amitabh Kant addressed the delgates.
"The ongoing working group meeting is the biggest in terms of attendance. Fifty-nine delegates from 27 countries are participating in the working group meeting," the LG said later said at a press conference.
Referring to India's presidency of the G20, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said at the meeting that the country is ready to share global responsibility as far as our obligation towards the economy, environment, and society is concerned.
India's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, while addressing the inaugural session, said the recommendations by the three-day conclave would find a very major place in the final communique which will be issued after the meeting of the leaders on September 9-10.
It is important because tourism is a very major driver of growth and job creation, he said.
Kant said five priority areas have been identified -- green tourism, digitalisation, skill development, tourism MSMEs and destination management -- and commendable progress has been made on these in the previous meetings.
The tourism sector has a very critical role to play in skilling, reskilling and upskilling the tourism sector, the G20 Sherpa said.
He said over the next two days, the delegates will truly experience why Kashmir is known as the heaven on earth.
Chief Coordinator for India's G20 presidency Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the country has so far hosted 118 meetings under its presidency.
Srinagar is one of the most iconic tourist locations, we are really privileged to be here. Last year, J&K received a record number of tourists. We expect the figures to be higher this year, he said.
The significance of holding the G20 event in Srinagar is that it is a unique blend of "our traditional heritage and the most modern infrastructure with cutting-edge technology, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.
"Srinagar, Kashmir, has been one of the earliest seats of learning both in Persian as well as in Sanskrit. It has a wide range of artisanship, and craftsmanship, ranging from carpets, embroidery, and shawls.
Also, "we have the most advanced infrastructural upgraded projects. We have the highest railway bridge in the world which is 35 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is located over river Chenab which is one of the largest rivers in India," he said.
Later addressing a press conference, the LG said the development since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 is just the beginning of its transformation and "I can say with confidence that under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, J-K is moving on the path of peace and prosperity...."
"We wanted to take our delegates to Gulmarg. But due to logistics issues, we cannot do it this time," he said, adding that those who still want to go, will be taken to the famous ski resort in north Kashmir.
The LG said the conduct of the third tourism working group meeting has shown that Jammu and Kashmir can host international events.
"We are capable enough to host any international event. If there are any shortcomings, we have got them in the legacy. We have picked up pace, but it will take time to fill the void of 70 years, he said.
Tourism Minister Reddy expressed hope that joint efforts of all the G-20 members, invited countries, and international organisations will result in the achievement of inclusive, action-oriented and decisive guidelines for the tourism industry.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)