Ahead of the tourist season the state tourism minister visit different cities/countries with an aim to promote ‘exotic’ destinations across the state through different mediums and ad-campaigns.
The state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is also keen on promoting various tourist destinations but has failed to upgrade the basic infrastructure at the tourist arrival points here in the city of temples.
The tourists/pilgrims may come via rail, road or by air but they all get a taste of things immediately after landing in the ‘city of temples’.
Stepping out of the railway station these ‘ambassadors of peace’ get a big jolt.
Instead of receiving warm welcome amid clean surroundings they are greeted by heaps of garbage, poor roads and foul smell. In the absence of any inquiry counters for general inquiries the majority of first timers struggle to find directions and gather basic information related to their travel plan. Absence of food court or a decent eatery which serves hygienic food discourage them to share a snack.
Raghubir Singh, a first timer from Uttar Pradesh said, “I am shocked to see the surroundings here at the Jammu railway station. It is messy everywhere. We had a completely different picture in mind about the state of J&k but this is a real bad experience. What is state government doing here if they cannot provide basic civic amenities and clean environs to tourists”, he added
In the absence of any resting place, adequate number of public toilets large number of them can be seen resting on the pavements and relieving themselves in open spaces. The women face hardship as they have to stand in long queue to use scanty public conveniences.
In the absence of adequate number of porters the tourists can be seen struggling with their luggage while negotiating their way out of the station premises. An elderly Surinder Sharma said, I am coming after a long time with my wife. Earlier the place was not so dirty but it appears the state govt. is not focusing on pilgrim traffic. They must be worried about high end tourists, Kumar said sharing his pain after going through hellish experience of dragging his luggage on bad road outside the station building.
Due to security restrictions the public transport vehicles are parked far away from the portico compounding miseries of tourists. The situation at the Jammu bus stand is equally pathetic.
It is difficult to trace the foot prints of any state government agency as it is free for all here at the bus station.
The air travelers are marginally better off but they too face many hardships while stepping out of the airport premises.
Barring VVIP passengers the common travelers had to slog with their luggage before stepping out of the fortified airport premises.
Their miseries are compounded if they fail to trace the driver of the taxi despite getting a token in their hand. As per the existing arrangement at the Jammu airport no private taxi operator is permitted inside the airport premises. On their arrival the passengers book taxis in advance inside the airport terminal but can only enjoy the privilege of hiring a taxi from outside the airport. Long traffic jams often discourage them to push their luggage. The airport authorities or state agencies have not even provided any public address system where announcements can be made to call a taxi on the arrival of passengers from inside the airport. Stringent security checks also discourage them.
The bus stand located in the old city of Jammu presents a picture of complete neglect. Poor hygienic conditions and lack of infrastructure at general bus stand paint a negative picture as tourists suffer in the absence of basic facilities especially during peak season.