Govt plans to explore tourism potential in Kurram, Orakzai

Govt plans to explore tourism potential in Kurram, Orakzai

PESHAWAR: The tourism department has planned to explore tourism potential in Kurram tribal district and Samana, a small hill station in Orakzai tribal district, according to officials.

They said that the department had included Kurram tribal district and Samana in its five-year plan. The department has selected total 25 areas in the province including southern belt and parts of the merged districts where the sites would be identified for promotion of tourism.

In the first phase, five areas including Kurram and Samana near Hangu have been selected where the department would identify tourist attraction spots. Civil secretariat for the seven merged districts has allocated funds for tourism, archaeology and culture in the ongoing Annual Development Programme.

Sites to be identified in 25 areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

An official told Dawn that the department had prepared destination investment management plan for the areas that would be developed for tourism. For new areas, the department would apply three-pronged strategy to protect its natural beauty, resources and prevent unplanned construction near the tourist sites.

The official said that the department would identify locations in the five areas including Kurram valley before opening it for domestic tourists and development of infrastructure. He said that proper master plan would be implemented in new destinations of the province to preserve natural beauty and prevent mushroom growth of commercial activities.

Under the proposed plan, the department would identify tourist attraction places in Kurram valley; at a distance of about five hours drive from Peshawar because of bad condition of the main road, with the consultation of local people and administration.

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“The master plan carries demarcation of land to be applied in Kurram to protect its environment and address cultural sensitivities of the area,” said the official, adding that survey would be conducted in new areas for identification of sites.

This is worth mentioning that development authority for the seven merged districts of erstwhile Fata had conducted study for the identification of tourist attraction places. A Lahore-based consultant firm was tasked to identify locations in the area along the Afghan border. The firm was paid Rs1.6 million but the report did not see light of the day.

After demarcation, the department would build roads for new locations and work out plan for development of recreational and other required infrastructure. Officials said that Kurram valley had huge potential for tourism because of its climate, terrain and greenery.

Speen Ghar (White Mountain) also called the Indian Caucasus, which is 15,620 feet above the sea level, overshadows the entire Kurram valley and beautiful locations like Parachinar, Zeran, Malana, Piwar, Tari Mangal, Parachamkani and other places nestled in its foothills. Flora and fauna of Speen Ghar, a natural demarcation line between Pakistan and Afghanistan, could attract mountaineers and trackers from the country and abroad.

Environmentalist and coordinator of Sarhad Conservation Network Dr Adil Zareef said that government should take ecology of the areas into consideration before implementing its plan and opening new locations for tourism.

He said that the department should learn lesson from Galiyat, Swat and Saiful Muluk Lake and should not promote tourism at the cost of ecotourism and adopt all measure for the conservation of natural beauty and habitats.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019