By Gul Hamaad Farooqi
CHITRAL: The three-day snow skiing festival in the picturesque Madgalasht valley in Chitral witnessed significant reduction in tourists mainly due to poor condition of roads in the area.
The festival was organized by the local people without any help from the government institutions in which a large number of people had participated, but this year a significant decline in the number of tourists was noticed.
The local tourists who had come to witness the festival said they always remain fearful about road mishaps due to extremely poor condition of roads. Sher Muhammad, former nazim of Shishi Koh, said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Tourism Development Corporation must improve the condition of roads before arranging festivals in the valley. He said no area can make development without roads. He said tourism particularly suffers a lot due to bad condition of roads as safety comes first.
The festival was arranged by the district administration this year. Local people said such was the condition of road that a vehicle would go several hundred meters back to enable the vehicle coming from opposite direction to cross it safely. The road leading to the area was constructed by the Forest Department 40 years ago for carrying forest wood. Then the local people demanded handing over the road to Construction and Works Department.
Sher Muhammad said neither the Forest Department nor the Communication Department is taking care of the road and it is in extremely poor condition.
At the concluding ceremony of the festival, many tourists said this year they did not enjoy it much.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner and Divisional Forest Officer Shaukat Fayyaz also inaugurated campaign in Madkalasht valley.
Shaukat Fayyaz said on the occasion that one lakh saplings will be distributed among the local population free of cost, while the Forest Department officials will plant over 150,000 trees at the river banks to stop the process of soil erosion and increase the forested area.
The deputy commissioner and DFO distributed plants among the local people and advised them to wait for proper time for plantation. They said plantation is the need of hour to save the environment from degradation.