In a mega push to promote eco-tourism in the Union Territory, the Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Council, meeting under the chairmanship of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, has approved development of seven new trekking routes in various wildlife protected areas by the Wildlife Department in coordination with the Tourism Department.
To sustainably promote tourism in the forest hinterland without disturbing the ecological balance in the protected areas, the Administrative Council also approved opening up of the existing infrastructure and resources of the Forest Department, including rest houses/inspection huts, to tourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
The decision would allow the online booking of 29 forest rest houses/inspection huts in Kashmir and Jammu divisions under a common brand and logo from May 1 this year.
The state Forest, Ecology and Environment Department was directed to put in place a user-friendly online portal for booking identified rest houses on a first come, first serve basis as per their availability and intake capacity.
It was also directed to refurbish and open another batch of 58 rest houses/huts to tourists by July 1.
These accommodations are located in different forest divisions in quaint places amid pristine nature. Until now, they were reserved for forest officers to be utilised only during official tours in connection with conservation, protection and management of forests and wildlife.
The Administrative Council also approved the development of new trekking routes in the Bahu Conservation Reserve, the Sudhmahadev Conservation Reserve, the Thein Wildlife Conservation Reserve, the Tral Wildlife Sanctuary-Dachigam National Park-Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, the Thajwas Wildlife Sanctuary, the Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve-Dachigam National Park-Khonmoh Conservation Reserve, and the Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve.