Novita Singh History bears witness to the fact that whenever and wherever militancy or political viagra canadian pharmacy movement found roots, the economy of that region became a major casualty. This is true for the Kashmir region as well since 1989. In Kashmir, due to terrorism, there is hardly any industrial sector to talk of; the agricultural sector, though a predominant source of income and livelihood, fails to provide food security to the complete populace of the Valley. It is the tourism industry that
fills this vacuum. It is no surprise that the tourism industry was given special status with a view to generate round the year activity. A special outlay of Rs. 22.06 crores was made available during the seventh plan period with which important schemes like Gulmarg cable car and development of wayside facilities were taken up. The result was that the tourist inflow made considerable upward movement in mid-eighties of the last century. However, with the advent of terrorism in the State from 1989 onwards the tourist trade completely collapsed. Due to militancy, the tourist resorts of the
valley could not be maintained and they acquired a shabby and shoddy look. Those engaged with the maintenance and beautification of these resorts did not discharge their duties since this was not a priority for the government whose paramount concern was internal security and maintenance of law and order. Before the advent of militancy, a separate budget was kept for the development of infrastructure and beautification of the resorts which perforce had to be curtailed for use in counter terrorist activity; as a result, the once beautifully maintained gardens turned into bushes. In certain cases, tourist resorts became hideouts and safe heavens for terrorists, some of whom were killed in the resorts. Many resorts were denuded recklessly by timber smugglers and other deceitful persons. This state of disorder also allowed land grabbers and squatters to encroach the land. Take the Dal Lake as a case in point; its once clear and pristine water became stagnant and full of trash;
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now sewage and cow dung can be found in plenty along the periphery of the lake. The fate of Manasbal Lake is no
different; today it is fighting a losing battle against illegal encroachment with vegetable gardens, toilets, residential structure, garbage dumping
sites etc coming up with impunity on the periphery. Wrappers, plastic bags, rags, vegetables peelings, empty cigarette cases and other constituents of garbage can be seen floating in its water,
affecting the look of the lake. The owners of hotels, in earlier times, spent a substantial portion of their earnings on the development of infrastructure. As business deteriorated they lost the will to invest leading to deterioration of their properties; they could barely make two ends meet what to talk of development and improvement. Nearly 1094 houseboats
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in Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake and River Jhelum and all those people employed in their running were rendered idle. The fate of 2000 “Shikarawallas” in these and other lakes was no better. The average level of occupancy before terrorism was 80% for houseboat owners, 70% for hotel owners and 70%
for shikhara owners. This decreased to 5%, 5% and 10% respectively. About 70% of houseboat owners, 50% hoteliers and 40% Shikhara owners changed their occupation during the turmoil. The resultant unemployed youth got sucked in to the gun culture; young people often took to the streets, blocked roads and threw stones at police and paramilitary personnel, causing chaos and unrest. They did all this to give vent to their frustration against the government. It
should be noted that the economic cost of the conflict cannot be confined to a particular sector of industry or investment prospects. It affected all important sources of livelihood of local people such as agriculture, horticulture, industry and handicraft industries as well. Moreover, due to turmoil almost all the traders of Kashmir had to shift their trading centers from Srinagar to other places in India. Conflict retards development, and equally, failures in development substantially increase conflict. The Organization for Economic, Co-operation and Development in 199, argues that sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace and stability, and peace and security are not possible without meeting the basic needs of the people. Turmoil anywhere in the world affects economy directly and Kashmir is not a special case to it. The effect of decades of turmoil is that the state now lags far behind in economic growth as compared to the national level. A survey has indicated that the State had shown 5.27% annual growth during first three years of the tenth five year plan against the national average of 6.6% (Finance and Planning Commission 2007). The State has also felt the direct impact of conflict in terms of huge damage caused by violent incidents on both public
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as well as private properties. Billions of dollars of legitimate tourism revenue has been lost over the many years when the industry was dormant, Human resources have suffered enormously due to large scale displacement of Pandits, Sikhs and Muslims from the valley. The progressive bent of mind that plays a crucial role in development of society has diminished in the state. Lack of opportunities and overall dismal scenario has led to significant migration from Kashmir valley. Many educated youth from Kashmir valley have started migrating to other parts of India in search of
greener pastures, thereby further depriving the State of the human resources. Now that peace is getting to prevail albeit labouriously, it can only be hoped that the region witnesses no revisit of the
dismal years of economic, political, social and developmental stagnant which set back the clock for the progressive people. Much has been lost but it can be regained and restored only if peace prevails.