The picturesque Tosa Maidan meadow in Budgam district, vacated by army in 2014, was today officially opened to public by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The Chief Minister declared it open with the inauguration of a 3-day 'Tosa Maidan Festival' in the midst of the sprawling pasture circled by sky-touching Deodars.
During the festival,activities like horse riding, trekking and mountaineering will be organised to promote the area as an adventure tourism destination.
Speaking on the occasion, Mehbooba said Tosa Maidan will be brought on the tourist map of the state without disturbing its fragile environment.
She stressed on promoting the historic meadow through community-driven adventure and rural tourism initiatives to facilitate the turnaround of the socio-economic profile of the locals, especially the youth.
"Every initiative on part of tourism department will be taken keeping in view the local environs and economy," she said, adding she would "never allow despoiling of this beautiful meadow" while promoting tourism.
The picturesque meadow would not turn into a "concrete jungle" as has unfortunately happened with other tourist resorts in the state, she said.
The Chief Minister also announced a new Tourism Development Authority to ensure focused development of the area.
"The Government will constitute a new Tourism Development Authority for Tosa Maidan which will be integrated with Gulmarg, Yusmarg and Dodhpathri Tourism Development Authorities to promote it as an adventure tourism circuit," she said.
Mehbooba called for greater public-private interface to create a sustainable revenue model by utilising available infrastructure for economic advantage of local residents.
"To begin with, 50 local 'Kothawalas' would provide lodging to those visiting the Tosa Maidan meadow," she said, adding that the Tourism Department would assist them in creating requisite facilities.
She also directed the officials concerned to start a plantation drive so that loss of forest area due to the firing range can be compensated.
Later, the Chief Minister also visited the tourist destinations of Yusmarg and Gulmarg to take stock of infrastructure and other facilities available for the tourists there.
Tosa Maidan, which was used by the Army as an artillery firing range for several decades, was handed back to the state government in 2014.