Sonia dedicates Kashmir tulip garden to nation

March 29th, 2008 - 3:04 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Srinagar, March 29 (IANS) United Progressive alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi Saturday threw open the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden here to the public.
The tulip garden, which authorities claim is Asia’s largest, was earlier called the Siraj Bagh. It is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake on the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountain.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, his wife Shameema Azad and Union Water Resources Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz accompanied Gandhi. Soz is also the Congress state unit chief.

Former chief minister and patron of the ruling alliance partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was also present on the occasion, which took place a few months before the state is scheduled to go to the polls.

Gandhi recalled the special affection and love the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had for Kashmir. She also recollected fondly the memorable holidays she had spent in Kashmir with her family.

“Kashmir has a great potential for flower growing and there are some varieties of flowers which grow only here and nowhere else in the world.

“There is much less tension here now. I pray things become better and more and more people come here from the rest of the country and elsewhere in the world. With these words, I dedicate the Indira Gandhi Tulip garden to the nation,” she said.

Azad explained the necessity of establishing the tulip garden in Srinagar, asserting that such a step would serve to attract tourists to Kashmir with the beginning of the spring season in the valley.

The chief minister has been personally supervising the development of this ambitious project.

“We have grown 1.2 million tulips of 60 varieties in the garden this year. Out of these, 900,000 tulip bulbs have been imported from Holland. The garden would finally be spread over 50 acres of land,” Ghulam Sarwar Naqash, director floriculture, told IANS.

In order to generate funds for the maintenance and development of the tulip garden, the authorities have fixed Rs.50 as the entry fee for each visitor and Gandhi paid for her entry to the garden.

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