The significance of holding a G20 meeting in Srinagar is that the city is a strange blend of traditional heritage and modern infrastructure with cutting-edge technology, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said here on Tuesday.
Addressing the inaugural session of the third tourism working group meeting of the G20 countries at the SKICC here, Singh, the minister of state in the prime minister’s office, said India is ready to share the global responsibility as far as its obligation towards the economy, environment, and society is concerned.
“Today, when we meet in the scenic spot of Srinagar, we have this deep realisation within us that we are all a part of the global world, and India, under the prime ministership of Narendra Modi, is very cautious of that,” the MoS said.
Singh said India’s challenges, concerns, and benchmarks were global, and its growth also has to be global.
“That is why Modi is concerned about climate challenges. We have also committed to achieving a net zero target by 2070,” he added.
The minister said the significance of holding the G20 event in Srinagar is that it’s a strange blend of our traditional heritage and the most modern infrastructure with cutting-edge technology.
“Srinagar, Kashmir, has been one of the earliest seats of learning both in Persian as well as in Sanskrit. It has a wide range of artisanship, and craftsmanship, ranging from carpets, embroidery, and shawls.
“On the other hand, we have the most advanced infrastructural upgraded projects. We have the highest railway bridge in the world which is 35 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is located over river Chenab which is one of largest rivers in India,” he said.
Singh said Jammu and Kashmir also has Asia’s longest bi-directional road tunnel which is known as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee tunnel – on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
Referring to India’s presidency of the G20, the Union minister said India is ready to share the global responsibility as far as our obligation towards the economy, environment, and society is concerned.
Speaking at the event, Union Tourism Minister G K Reddy said he was happy to see that tourism working groups were progressing in the right direction.
“I am sure that the joint efforts of all the G20 members, invited countries, and international organisations will result in the achievement of the inclusive, action-oriented and decisive guidelines for the tourism industry,” he said.
The Union tourism minister said he was confident that across the country, wherever the delegates would go, Indians will treat them like family.
I wish you to enjoy your stay and return to India over and over again with your families, friends and citizens of your countries, he added.
India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant while addressing the inaugural session, said whatever recommendations the meeting would give, they would find a very major place in the final leaders’ communiqué which will be issued after the meeting of the leaders on September 9-10.
“It is important because tourism is a very major driver of growth, and job creation,” he said.
Kant said five priority areas have been identified — green tourism, digitalisation, skill development, tourism MSMEs and destination management — and commendable progress has been made on these in the previous meetings.
The G20 tourism track is also working to further the achievement of green inclusive and resilient tourism development. As the voice of the global south, and an emerging economy, India’s presidency focussed on tourism has been guided by the efforts to build back the tourism sector better following the Covid pandemic globally, Kant said.
The tourism sector has a very critical role to play in skilling, reskilling and upskilling the tourism sector, the G20 Sherpa said.
He said over the next two days, the delegates will truly experience why Kashmir is known as the heaven on earth.
As the prime minister emphasises, tourism is the jewel in India’s crown, tourism is a natural magnet. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have always complimented the natural beauty and bounty of this place with their rich tradition of warmth and hospitality. This is the bedrock for creating a successful tourism experience, Kant added.
He said last year, a record number of tourists — highest in 75 years of India’s Independence – visited Jammu and Kashmir.
Kant also said that the number of delegates present at the working group meeting in Srinagar was the highest amongst all the working group meetings.
“We are very grateful to all of you for joining us in this beautiful city of Kashmir in Srinagar. This is a record number of delegates that we have received amongst all the working groups, and we are very thankful to all of you,” he added.
Chief Coordinator for India’s G20 presidency Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the country has so far hosted 118 meetings under its presidency.
“Srinagar is one of the most iconic tourist locations, we are really privileged to be here. Last year, J&K received a record number of tourists. We expect the figures to be higher this year,” he said.
He expressed hope that the meeting would spur a greater number of tourists to visit this important location.
“It will bring much-needed cheer to local traders, craftsmen who depend on tourism,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Boulevard and Gupkar roads leading to the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) on the shores of the famous Dal Lake here remained off limits for people for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.
Security personnel have sealed both roads – which approach the meeting venue – as a security measure to ensure the event concludes incident-free, officials said.
The movement of people and transport was not allowed and the traffic was diverted through other routes, they said.
The officials said security forces have been deployed in strength around the meeting venue as well as elsewhere to keep a close vigil.
Checkpoints have been erected at many places in the city here and security forces personnel were undertaking random checking and frisking of the vehicles to ensure that no subversive elements manage to enter the city.