16 مئی، 2014

Chitral - #Kalash Festival - خراب سڑکوں کی وجہ سے کیلاش فیسٹیول متاثر۔۔۔ سیاحوں کی رسائی مشکل ہوگئی

 

PESHAWAR: People planning to take a trip to #Chitral district’s #Kalash valleys, especially for the upcoming spring festival, should first check with local authorities, as roads leading to all three valleys are blocked. Bumboret and Rumbor roads were damaged in last summer’s floods while the roads to Brir Valley were destroyed in this year’s flash floods. 



According to the officials and lawmakers from the area, funds promised to the district by the Khyber-Pakthunkhwa (K-P) government for the rehabilitation of flood-damaged infrastructure have yet to be released.

Not only does this affect commuting costs for people traveling in and out of the area, residents and officials fear the road blocks will have a negative impact on tourism, which is a major source of revenue for the Kalash people. Their spring festival, Joshi, is scheduled for May 12-16, which usually attracts many local and foreign tourists.

“We used to pay Rs200 per trip between Chitral city and Kalash, but now this amount has jumped to Rs300 and if one is carrying luggage the cost is Rs400 per passenger,” said Luke Rehmat, a resident of Bumboret.

Rehmat said the roads were open for some traffic on an emergency basis but since the snow melted, conditions have worsened and routes are completely blocked since the past two months.

“Flash floods also destroyed Brir valley roads some days back,” he said. Residents and tourists are forced to take detours, which usually are more expensive.

Money talks

In an official letter dated May 5, of which a copy is available with The Express Tribune, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Chitral Shoaib Jadoon appealed to Commissioner Malakand to take up the matter with concerned authorities to release approved funds as soon as possible so the roads could be accessible before the start of Joshi festival.

The letter mentions details about the funds promised by K-P Chief Minister. “Rs150 million was approved for rehabilitation of roads, bridges and irrigation channels, but so far this money has not been released, leading to a delay in rehabilitation work,” the letter reads.

Foreign as well as local tourists are expected to visit for the spring festival but the closure of roads is a major problem, and it will also give the government a bad name, it reads further.

While the district administration points fingers at officials in Peshawar for failing to release funds on time, a K-P government official familiar with the matter said the casual attitude of local authorities is also to blame.

“The district administration waited till the 11th hour to ask for funds on May 5,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

The official also cautioned tourists planning trips to the area to check with local authorities for a travel update.

“I was told by concerned officials that the release of funds is unlikely during the current financial year,” said Saleem Khan, an MPA from Chitral.

According to the K-P lawmaker, the CM announced Rs300 million for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged in floods. Saleem, however, was also told that even if the funds are issued now, the construction process would still take time, leaving the roads blocked till as late as August. It is possible these projects will be included in next year’s Annual Development Programme (ADP), he added.

“It is a sluggish response on the part of the provincial government,” the MPA said.

DC Chitral was not available to comment on the issue.



Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2014.

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