Mussoorie and Nainital have the potential to emerge as safe and cheap vaccination destination, believe experts.
GG News Bureau
Mussoorie, 28th May. A consensus among all experts is emerging that it will be a long-drawn war against Covid 19 pandemic and to make India free from the dreaded virus, it is imperative to increase the rate of vaccination in the country.
However, it will be possible only after reviving the economy that has come to standstill due to the Lockdown, curfew etc. in several states including the tourism-dependent state of Uttarakhand.
The experts believe that “vaccination for all” is the answer for achieving these goals, but due to poor health infrastructure in the country getting each citizen vaccinated has become a herculean task. The long queues in front of the hospitals in several cities around the country have become a norm and are acting as a deterrent to the mission vaccination, being run in the country.
People from high affluent society, out of the fear of contracting infection are shying away from vaccination that many believe is the lone response to fight against the pandemic. Many countries realising the need to revive the economy have decided to open their respective country and are inviting tourists by rolling out various Vaccine holiday packages. The Hotel associations and tour operators in these countries have latched upon the business opportunity and have come out with packages with the additional benefit of Vaccination on arrival to boost tourism and the economy.
A small central European republic of San Marino has taken the lead by welcoming the first vaccine tourists from Latvia. Many tourism experts are of the view that considering the success of San Marino the other countries like Russia and Maldives are also contemplating starting lucrative Vaccine holiday packages. Such offers are mushrooming in the United States too, said tourism experts.
The Hill stations such as Mussoorie and Nainital if converted into vaccination hubs can play a major role in stemming this flow of tourists to other countries and save the much-required foreign exchange of the country.
According to the local historian Gopal Bhardwaj the two hill stations, Mussoorie and Nainital during the British era served as health resorts and had a number of nursing homes, hospitals, and sanatoriums where their citizens recuperated from communicable diseases.
The oldest nursing home in Mussoorie was Evelyn Hall, on top of the Camel’s Back and was run under the direction of Miss Haines, late matron of Red Hill, Grey Castle, was another Nursing Home run under the direction of Mrs Hamilton, with a staff of qualified nurses. The third nursing home was at the Monastery, Happy Valley. There was Maternity Home at Rock Cliff on the Camel’s Back, close to Grey Castle. another was at Priory presently known as Kateswar castle.
Maharajah Dulip Singh, son of the celebrated “Lion of Punjab during his childhood was sent to the Mussoorie for his health. Gopal Bhardwaj informed that Mahatma Gandhi during his ten-days stay in Mussoorie from 28th May to 8 June in 1946 due to health reasons. He was mesmerized by the climate and the Himalayan surroundings. Gandhiji in a quote said,” In these hills natures hospitality eclipse all that man can ever do. The enchanting beauty of the bracing Himalayas, its soothing climate envelopes you, leave nothing more to be desired. I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed if equaled, by any of the beauty spots of the world.”
Gopal Bhardwaj said that Jawahar Lal Nehru too, along with his ailing father visited Mussoorie during the summer on few occasions and stayed at the historical property called Craig Top. Jawahar Lal Nehru in a letter to his mother Swaroop Rani dated June 1, 1914, stated that his father Motilal’s health was improving as they had engaged a new doctor. This letter is still in possession of NP Singh, a direct descendant of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who bought the house in 1958.
In the early 20th century, a British Military Hospital (BMH) was opened, with a medical staff that specialized in tropical diseases which later closed in 1947. At Nainital, the sanitarium at Bhowali was opened to treat tuberculosis. The St Mary’s Hospital near Gun hill today is in shambles and served the in-house patient till ’90s. Motilal Nehru father of the first prime minister Jawaharlal visited Mussoorie along with his family frequently.
Gopal Bhardwaj said that if the town could serve as a health resort back then why it cannot do now.
The business community of Mussoorie is of the view that the town can serve to fulfil the mission “Vaccination for all” provided it is converted into a tourism vaccination destination. The business communities in association with the administration are ready to cooperate if a foolproof plan is devised by the government to vaccinate tourists finding a workable way following Covid appropriate behaviour.
Sandeep Sahni, the president of Uttarakhand Hotel and restaurant association said,” tourism is the backbone of the economy of the state and the business community since the first Covid wave is going through a deep financial crisis and it is has become imperative to put the tourism-dependent economy of the state, back on the track.”
Sandeep Sahni further said that if vaccination tourism is initiated it will not only generate employment but provide additional revenue that can be used to create better Covid 19 related infrastructure in the state. Until such measure are adopted it would be difficult to fight the pandemic”.
Chandra Khanduri who has led a hotel in Mussoorie said that instead of winter carnival we should organise a vaccination carnival.
“The tourists who are making beeline for other countries for vaccination can be persuaded to use the facilities in Mussoorie as it would be a less costly affair in comparison to a foreign land and would also help in generating revenue and employment for the state, said Chandra Khanduri .
The medical fraternity to believes that the idea is good in principle and vision but there are lot of logistic problems. Dr Mahesh Kuriyal, Indian Medical Association member and a Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon C.M.I. Hospital, Dehradun said, “In principle and vision the idea has some substance but it too has logistic problems. For initial 4 months, the vaccination program was going on very nicely but for last one month no vaccine is available to any Pvt hospitals”. The government is asking us to procure it directly from the manufacturing company. We have ordered but do not know when we will get it, added Dr Mahesh Kuriyal.”
Vijay a hotelier said people who have their flats in Mumbai and Delhi are already registering Mussoorie as their centre and getting vaccinated so if an effort is made it could be done with the support of medical fraternity.
Ajay Bhatt the BJP MP Nainital said that we have not received any formal proposal from the stakeholders yet. If any such proposal comes the government is ready to discuss with the stake Holder. If the project is viable and logistics can be created, I will personally pursue the matter.
According to the sources the finance minister government of India top brass working on relief measures for the economy but there has been no formal consultation yet. It is likely that Travel, tourism, hospitality will be prioritized, and the finalization of the package is proposed over the next 2-3 weeks.
The Business community of the town believes that if the government takes interest, it can be done and if successful it can be replicated at other tourist destinations around the country.
Several social organisations in and around the country said that they are ready to provide logistic support in this noble cause and take café of vaccinated labour involved in the tourism industry.
Rajat Agarwal, the president of Mussoorie trader’s association said that we are already supporting the administration in running the more than six vaccination centres and if such a move is expedited then the association will support it wholeheartedly.