A day after Tourism Department temporarily suspended rafting-related activities in Kashmir following the death of three persons during rafting expeditions at Pahalgam in south Kashmir, stakeholders Friday said the tragic incidents, which were avoidable, have dented KashMany places such as Rishikesh in Uttarakhand are known for river rafting. Pahalgam was gradually emerging as a fast water sports destination but all these efforts have gone in vain. The incidents (deaths) were completely avoidable had the authorities put in place proper life-saving mechanisms,” said Athar Yameen, General Secretary, Travel Agents Society of Kashmir.
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Over the years the Government has been keenness on the promotion of adventure tourism to the extent that last year photographs of different adventure sports made it to J&K Bank’s annual wall calendar. However, tourism stakeholders said the deaths which took place in less than two weeks owing to the capsizing of rafts has raised many questions. “Why were events of river rafting held without necessary precautionary measures? A thorough probe needs to be conducted and the guilty must be brought to book,” said Yameen.
Tourism players said lack of modern equipment and less trained manpower were among the reasons for the tragedy. “The Tourism Department, on one hand, does a lot of lip service about the promotion of adventure sports but lacks men and machinery to promote it. We need proper equipment and well-trained team of rescuers before we can claim to be world-renowned river rafting and skiing destinations,” said another adventure sports lover.
mir image as a fast-growing adventure tourism destination.“All stakeholders must get serious about the safety of participants in the adventurous sports,” said Rauf Tramboo who heads Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir.
Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani said the Department has roped in rafting experts to conduct a study of rivers, at both Pahalgam and Sonamarg. “The experts will submit a technical report about nature of both rivers in one-week following which we will take a fresh call on the resumption of the activity (rafting),” said Wani.