Mehbooba opposes outsourcing of J&K’s golf courses

The former CM said it would end up in ownership and was irreversible

Published - March 06, 2023 03:36 am IST - SRINAGAR

Golf players walk past almond trees at Royal Spring Golf Course on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. File

Golf players walk past almond trees at Royal Spring Golf Course on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. File | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

The move by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation Limited (JKTDCL) to outsource prestigious and picturesque Royal Spring Golf Course (RSGC), Srinagar, was opposed by People Democratic Party president and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday.

JKTDCL managing director Minga Sherpa in an order on Saturday informed the secretary, RSGC, that the Corporation had included the gold course in the list of properties being outsourced on a public-private partnership model.

The golf course is spread over 100 hectares of land on the banks of the scenic Dal Lake in Srinagar with Zabarwan hills in the backdrop. Prior to the Centre’s move to end J&K’s special constitutional position in 2019, mostly locals were allowed to be members of the golf course.

Opposing the move, Ms. Mufti described the move as “sale of Royal Spring Golf Course”.

“It’s another example of how the government is “developing” this region post August 5, 2019 decision. Everything has been put on “SALE”. This is yet another step to sell our assets to non-local businesses,” Ms. Mufti said.

Oldest destination

Kashmir is among the oldest golfing destinations in South Asia with the Gulmarg and Kashmir Golf clubs being the second oldest after Calcutta.

“Our golf clubs are not mere real estate as GOI (Government of India) is treating the State but an essential part of our identity and heritage,” Ms. Mufti said.

Ms. Mufti said the “sale” of golf courses, whether Kashmir or Jammu, “is unacceptable”. “We’ve witnessed that this outsourcing generally ends up in ownerships and is irreversible,” she added.

The former Chief Minister said the administration was dragging its feet on renewing the leases to the local hoteliers in Gulmarg. “This looks like taking every important avenue from our hands. On the one hand poor people are being hounded out of what has been theirs for generations and on the other, premier assets are up for sale,” Ms. Mufti added.

“This is yet another step to sell our assets to non-local businesses”Mehbooba MuftiPresident, People Democratic Party

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