G20 meet in Srinagar

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For the first time, J&K is hosting a big international event, especially Srinagar where next month delegates will be meeting as part of G20 summit. Post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 this is one of the biggest international events that is being held here.

Despite strong reservations from Pakistan, the preparation for the event is going on in full pace as the Srinagar summer capital of J&K is being decked up for the event to send positive signal around the world about the ground situation in J&K.

Last week Home Minister, Amit Shah chaired a high-level meet in New Delhi for smooth conduct of the G20 summit meeting in Kashmir, especially on the security front. Home Minister was also briefed on the ground situation for this crucial meeting. The government at centre and UT administration is taking the event very seriously as this could play a very positive role for the India on the international diplomatic circles. In the past India has been reluctant on holding such big events in Kashmir, however, it seems slowly the centre has decided to hold big international events in Kashmir despite opposition from Pakistan as they consider J&K as disputed territory.

The G20 meeting in Kashmir will be held on May 23 and 24 at SKICC Srinagar. The focus of the meeting will be on tourism. Ahead of the event, roads including road from Srinagar airport to SKICC, Residency Road, Boulevard Road, roads leading to Hotel Lalit, Hotel Taj and Nehru Guest House, Mughal gardens, Parimahal, Cheshmashahi, Botanical Garden, road from Srinagar to Gulmarg, roads towards Zeastha Temple, Shankar Acharya, Dalgate to Hazratbal were to be beautified.

The city centre Lal Chowk and in other areas the work is on full swing and the workers are busy day and night to complete the task. Even a separate cycle track has been constructed in the city for the first time and new signages have been installed which will add to the beauty of the capital where more than 1.2 million people reside.

Besides meeting at SKICC, the delegates of G20 countries will travel to international ski resort of Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam. The delegates will visit Dachigham national park on the outskirts of the city.

Last week, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, V K Bidhuri chaired a high-level meeting where he gave deadline of 10 days to officers and contractors to finish the work ahead of its schedule.

Bidhuri directed all officials and contractors to complete work within the deadlines during a high-level meeting held to take review of works completed, and ongoing works under G-20 Summit on Tuesday.

“The DC said the works are for the people and should be completed at an earliest for their convenience and sought feedback from the participants regarding the needs and requirements vis–a-vis meeting completion of deadlines.” 

“A 10-day deadline has been set for most works including concrete works, footpaths, tiling works, drainage works, underground works, landscaping and turfing that are still going on including the Blacktopping works and installation of signages,” an official spokesperson said.

Fresh macdam is being laid on the roads of the Srinagar city and banks of river Jhelum is being decorated under Smart city project.

Officials said that besides many other things, India will get a chance to highlight the peace in J&K post abrogation of Article 370 and showcase potential of tourism in Kashmir which took a hit due to militancy for three decades. Last year, the highest number of tourists 27 lakh visited Kashmir and this year for first four months the arrival of tourists has been encouraging as alone more than 3 lakh tourists visited ski resort of Gulmarg.

However, for Pakistan holding of any international event in Kashmir looks unacceptable. “India’s irresponsible move is the latest in a series of self-serving measures to perpetuate its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in sheer disregard of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and in violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. Pakistan vehemently condemns these moves,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the choice of venues. However, India responded by issuing a strong worded statement.

“G20 events and meetings are happening across India and it’s only natural to do them in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which are an integral and inalienable part of India,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

India currently holds the rotating year-long presidency of the G20 and is set to host a summit in New Delhi in September.

On Friday, India released a full calendar of events leading up to the summit, which included G20 and Youth 20 meetings in Kashmir’s summer capital of Srinagar and in Leh, in Ladakh, in April and May.

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