Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday inaugurated a ‘border viewing point’ along the India-Pakistan border in the state’s Banaskantha district to promote tourism on the lines of Wagah in Punjab. Rupani unveiled a plaque and walked along the fenced border. “We plan to develop this border like Wagah… Though Wagah has gates and both border guarding forces man their respective areas, we do not have that here. Still to begin with we will conduct one-sided drills.”
Rupani said that the state government had built the point along with the Border Security Force (BSF). “On the eve of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee’s birthday, we are launching this border-viewing post,’’ he said. “From afternoon to evening, it will remain open for tourists every Saturday and Sunday. We will increase the frequency as tourism picks up.’’ He called Banaskantha an important region. “It is a desert and also has wild asses and a wide variety of birds. So the tourism potential is huge.”
A BSF jawan said that the area is safe. “Though you can see Pakistani bunkers across the border, we do not have border skirmishes like you hear about in Punjab and Kashmir. There are Pakistani villages close to the border, which have a majority Hindu population,’’ he said. “The area across the border is much greener than the mudflats here. However, we also have supply of Narmada water at our post here and so a tourist spot is not a bad idea.’’
Gujarat minister Shankarbhai Chaudhary said that the tourism promotion would help develop the backward region and provide job opportunities to youths.
Officials promised to upgrade facilities around the point, where there are no amenities except a couple of toilets.
Amrabhai Ven, who travelled with his 18-year-old son from nearby Bharadwa village to see the inauguration, was hopeful the tourism promotion would generate jobs. “I have come to explore if there are any future job opportunities for my son, who has completed his ITI (Industrial Training Institute) course,’’ Ven told The Sunday Express.
Ven said that the border district residents largely depended on animal husbandry. “After the Narmada canal was built, some of us, who own land, have been growing pomegranates, cumin, isagbol and castor. But once this area develops as a tourist spot, we hope it will bring a lot of prosperity to this desert region.’’