The Maharashtra government is planning to buy two land parcels, one each in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, before October 31, the day central laws are scheduled to come into force in the state, for construction of resorts.
It has earmarked an amount of Rs 2 crore for the purpose, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal told Moneycontrol.
If the plan goes through, Maharashtra will become the first state to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
"We had a board meeting on August 28 in which the subject of buying land in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh was taken up. It was decided in the meeting that we should buy two parcels of land – one in Ladakh near Leh, where we would have a resort-cum-mountaineering institute, and the other in Jammu and Kashmir, the location for which is not yet decided, but would preferably be near the airport and the railway station," he said.
There was a suggestion by some experts that Pahalgam Road in Srinagar could be one location, but no decision has been taken on this, he said.
"We have earmarked a token amount of Rs 2 cr – Rs 1 cr each – to buy the land," Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal said.
Rawal told Moneycontrol that the government is expecting to finalise the sites before October 31.
"We are in a hurry to finalise before October 31. Once the board decided on August 28, the executives have to implement and they have started implementing it. We are expecting a letter from the (Maharashtra) Chief Minister at the earliest. I have already written to the chief minister. If we can get some government property also, we can consider that. It is a matter of time, the money is there, we find the place and buy. It can happen as soon as possible. I have given them (the team) a maximum of two weeks to go and visit the place. The team is planning to visit (Jammu and Kashmir) in six or seven days. We want to finalise the parcels preferably before October 31," Rawal said.
The state government is planning to hire local consultants to help it select the best locations from the tourism point of view. "In two weeks, a small team with our managing director and the estate manager, will be visiting both the locations. We will be hiring local consultants there who will guide us. They would also carry a letter from the chief minister to the governor of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
The government is looking at several options for the deal – government properties where it pays the ready-reckoner value and buys the land, properties held by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation, or even land that belongs to private parties.
"It is going to be a tourism resort where anybody can stay. I am sure tourists will be visiting from Maharashtra to see Kashmir, and of course for religious purposes. People from Mumbai may account for half of our bookings. The resorts will have a mix of Kashmiri and Maharashtrain cuisine and culture. We will be hiring locals as guides," he added.
Sources said that this is only the token amount.
Home Minister Amit Shah had on August 5 proposed the scrapping of Article 370 that accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Centre informed Parliament that the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) would be bifurcated into two Union Territories (UTs) – Jammu and Kashmir would become a Union Territory (UT) with a legislature, while Ladakh will be a separate UT without a legislature.
Article 35A of the Constitution, which states that only permanent residents can acquire land in the state, was also revoked.
With the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A, non-residents may technically be allowed to invest in immovable property within the Union Territories.firstname.lastname@example.org