Maharashtra becomes first state to buy land & construct ‘Maharashtra Bhawan’ in Kashmir

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Tourists enjoying the Shikara ride in Dal Lake, Srinagar. (Photo: PTI)
Tourists enjoying the Shikara ride in Dal Lake, Srinagar. (Photo: PTI)

Maharashtra is poised to make history by becoming the first Indian state to acquire land in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir to build a tourist facility for its residents. The upcoming Maharashtra Bhawan, set to be constructed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, marks a significant milestone as the valley’s inaugural state Bhawan.

According to reports, the Maharashtra Bhawan will occupy 2.5 acres of land in Ichgam, near Srinagar airport. The Jammu and Kashmir government has sanctioned the land transfer to Maharashtra for a sum of ₹8.16 crore.

The initiative gained momentum following a visit by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to the union territory in June last year, where he met with Governor Manoj Sinha to discuss the project’s feasibility.

Before the revocation of Article 370, land ownership in Jammu and Kashmir was restricted to permanent residents of the state. However, post-abrogation, the government has extended land purchase permissions to outsiders, albeit through leasing arrangements of up to 99 years.

In a recent budget announcement, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar disclosed plans for the construction of two Maharashtra Bhawans in Srinagar and Ayodhya, aimed at enhancing tourism facilities for visitors and pilgrims. The state government has earmarked ₹77 crore for the development of these Bhawans.

This strategic move by Maharashtra aligns with the burgeoning tourism landscape in Jammu and Kashmir, which has witnessed a surge in visitor numbers, recording over 2 crore footfalls in 2023 alone. Furthermore, the central government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has prioritized the promotion of tourism in the valley to stimulate employment opportunities, bolster economic growth, and foster overall development in the union territory.

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