Kashmir’s Tulip Garden, the largest of its kind in Asia, which despite being in full bloom is without any visitors because of the shutdown forced by the COVID 19. Tulip Garden here has some 60 varieties of 1.3 million tulips that are in full bloom but without any visitor. As per the records, between two to four lakh visitors that include domestic and international tourists used to visit the garden between March 25 till the end of April each year.
In 2019, after an attack on a paramilitary vehicle by militants in February, many countries issued advisories asking their citizens to not visit Kashmir which also resulted in the decline of visitor numbers. “But despite the advisories, 2.58 lakh tourists, both local and non-local, had visited this garden last year,” said an official. The garden that is spread over an area of 30 hectares had earned the Jammu & Kashmir government revenue (entry fee) of Rs.79 lakh last season.
However, the officials failed to outsource it for this year’s tulip season and were unable to invite any bidders. “The process of bidding used to initiate in January but the careless and unreasonable approach by the officers aborted the plan this time,” said an insider. Commercial floriculture has of late emerged a new enterprise in Kashmir.
With the onset of spring, cut flower consignments worth lakhs of rupees are exported to markets in Delhi and other metropolitan cities in India. However, due to the lockdown of around 7 months, after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A, this emerging commercial activity was ravaged like other economic sectors. Now, this ongoing COVID shutdown has further worsened the situation and business. Government statistics say that J&K has 500-unit holders of controlled atmosphere flower cultivation. On a conservative estimate, the volume of business generated in floriculture is approximately Rs.30 crore yearly.