Jammu and Kashmir will host the third tourism working group meeting of G20 countries in capital Srinagar from today amid tight security. This is the first such international event in the region after Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and stripped of its statehood in August 2019.
A glittering facelift has been given to parts of Srinagar city and roads leading to Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Center or SKICC, the venue for the G20 meeting.
Harshavardhan Shingha, Chief Coordinator G20, said India is halfway through its G20 presidency and so far 118 meetings have been held across the country.
He said the Srinagar meeting has received the highest number of participants in comparison to two earlier meetings on tourism.
Around 60 delegates from the member countries of G20 are attending the meeting. Officials say the highest number of delegates for the Srinagar event are coming from Singapore.
There are also delegates from special invitee guest countries who are attending the meeting.
China has opposed the holding of a G20 meeting in Kashmir, while Saudi Arabia has not registered for the event. Turkey, it appears, has decided to stay away from the Srinagar meeting.
“China firmly opposes holding G20 meetings in any form in disputed areas and will not attend such meetings,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday.
India countered the objection by saying it is free to hold meetings on its own territory. It said peace and tranquility on its border is essential for normal ties with China.
This was the first such strongly worded statement by China on G20 event in Srinagar.
Ahead of the meeting, Srinagar is under an unprecedented security blanket. Marine commandos and national security guards have been deployed as part of the ground-to-air security cover.
Anti-drone units have been activated and national security guards are deployed at sensitive places and installations.
Thousands of troops from the Army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Jammu and Kashmir Police are part of the security grid amid reports that terrorists may try to disrupt the G20 event in Kashmir.
Police have issued traffic advisories and no traffic will be allowed to move on Srinagar’s boulevard road. There are also restrictions on traffic movement on the route used by G20 delegates.
Shopkeepers in Lal Chowk area have been issued special passes so that they can keep their shops open without facing any problems.
Ahead of the meeting, a massive facelift was given to parts of Srinagar city and road from Srinagar airport to SKICC.
Under Srinagar smart city project, footpaths and roads get a new look. While Jhelum riverfront was renovated with the laying of concrete footpaths, Poloview market, Srinagar’s best shopping places, was given a glittering facelift. The four-lane road link of the market has been closed. It’s now laid with tiles and has become a pedestrian-only market.
As part of the sightseeing programme, G20 delegates are also expected visit Poloview market which has become postcard of Srinagar’s smart city project.
Officials say the G20 meeting will boost tourism in Kashmir which is already receiving large number of domestic and foreign tourists.
The success of the upcoming tourism working group meeting of the G-20 countries will result in an increase in the influx of tourists and investments in Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Saturday.