To promote Wullar as prime tourist destination in the Valley, Bandipora Administration in collaboration with Wullar battalion of Army, Tourism Department and WUCMA organised Wullar festival on the banks of Wullar Lake at Wullar Vantage Park Garoora which witnessed much fanfare.
Divisional Commissioner (Div Com) Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole was the chief guest on the occasion.
The event was attended by Chairman District Development Council (DDC) Bandipora, Ab Gani Bhat; Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmed; Vice Chairperson DDC, Kounser Shafeeq; Chief Executive Director Wullar Conservation and Management Authority, T Rabi Kumar; SSP Bandipora, Mohammad Zahid; ADDC Ali Afsar Khan; ADC Waseem Raja; DPO M Ashraf Hakak, Faisal Ali Dar (Padma Shri Awardee), Commanding Officer 26 Assam Rifles, Commanding Officers of several other Army Units, DDC/BDC Members, Sectoral and District officers, other public representatives besides large gathering of people from different walks of life.
In the introductory session, Joint Director Planning Bandipora, Imtiyaz Ahmad said that the event is meant for twin objectives of promotion of sustainable economic upliftment and tourism. He said Wullar is not only a tourist destination but an asset to engage thousands to earn their livelihood.
Various cultural and musical items were presented by different bands and groups who received huge applause from the audience. The folk tribal songs and touching patriotic numbers left the audience spellbound. The martial art demonstration by students of Ali’s Sports Academy was also an eye-catching activity for the audience.
Addressing the gathering, Div Com said that the aim of organising the Wullar Festival was to promote Wullar as a prime tourist destination besides providing a platform to local artists to showcase their talent.
He said such festivals shall attract more tourists and help in upliftment of socio-economic status of people of the district.
Pole said the aim of the Wullar festival was fulfilled by witnessing the enthusiastic and huge participation of people. He said on an average one tourist gives a job to at least six persons and Wullar has the potential to change the socio-economic condition of the people.
He said about 20 lac tourists visited UT this year so far and the rush will continue throughout the year.
The Div Com urged the people to get registered for homestays as tourists prefer home stays to enjoy rich cultural heritage. He urged people to spare surplus rooms for tourists and earn livelihood.
During inspection of stalls of various departments, the Div Com also distributed cheques of cash assistance among beneficiaries of various Government Schemes.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman DDC appreciated the efforts of the District Administration for tourism promotion across the district. He said promotion of Wullar as a tourist destination will help in generating more employment avenues for youth.
The DC said that Wullar festival was aimed to promote sustainable tourism of the World renowned Lake, which is also a Ramsar Site protected water body for the economic upliftment of the people involved, and to create awareness about Lake’s ecological Richness and need for conservation of this Natural Resource.
He said that this festival shall also provide a platform to the local artists and school children to showcase their talent. He said the Administration is committed to bring Wullar and surrounding areas on a tourism map in order to provide more employment opportunities to youth and provide means of livelihood. He said along with promoting Wullar as Prime destination, efforts are on to promote conservation activities also, keeping in view the ecological sensitivity of Wullar Lake.
He welcomed and thanked the public for participation and promotion of traditional culture.
Dr. Owais also appreciated the efforts of WUCMA for dredging critically silted 4.35 sq.kms of Wullar Lake till date out of 27 sq.kms silted area on way to restoring its old glory.
He said that Wullar Walkway work has been allotted for an amount of 18.76 crore and will be completed by next year. Apart from this, various ghats, parks and visitor attractions are being taken up to boost tourism around the lake, he added.
Dr. Owais said the festival will also promote awareness about the importance of the lake, the Ramsar convention and the ecosystem services which the lake provides.
During the festival, a Birding event was organised by Wullar Conservation and Management Authority at Zurimanz area of Bandipora in which school children were taken for Bird watching. The children were given insights to use of Birding equipment and bird guides.
Besides Bird Watching, various other activities including boat riding, photography competition, painting competition, debates and other cultural activities showcasing and highlighting Wullar were organised.
In the photography competition “Shades of Wullar” by Shouib Masoodi, a senior journalist of Bandipora bagged the first position.
On the occasion, all position holders of various competitions were felicitated to encourage them for further promotion and awareness of tourism potential and ecological conservation of Wullar.