Srinagar July 15: Much to the delight of tourists as well as locals, the trial run of the much anticipated water transport in river Jhelum is currently underway in Srinagar even as actual operations remain uncertain owing to dearth of motorboats.
Various Jammu and Kashmir dispensations have in the past talked of resuming water transport in river Jhelum, which has been the major source of transportation in the valley during the days of the yore. However, such promises have fallen flat for unknown reasons.
The latest endeavor is part of the government of India’s Swadesh Darshan scheme funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Programme (PMDP) aimed at integrated theme based infrastructure development of tourist sites including river Jhelum in Kashmir.
The historical river is included in the union Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Himalayan Circuit’ to be developed as a tourist region.
As part of the scheme, a 30-seater ‘Bus Boat’ is currently undergoing a trial run in Jhelum between Lasjan on Srinagar outskirts and Chatabal Weir since July 10, Emran Malik, Director of Sukhnag Enterprises, a marine equipment supplier firm that has commissioned the boat, told Greater Kashmir.
Besides the Bus Boat, the firm has also commissioned a 10-12 seater luxury pontoon boat and a 14-seater rescue boat in the Jhelum. The Bus Boat and the rescue boat had been procured from New Zealand based Mac company while the luxury pontoon boat has been shipped from the US, Malik said.
While the Bus Boat is expected to operate on a daily basis, the luxury boat will be kept aside for special bookings and VIP movement, he further informed.
Malik said his firm is the exclusive dealer of the company for India.
While the trial run of the boat is going on smoothly, Malik said the dearth of boats and the uncertainty over the route plan and fare remains a challenge once the trial is completed on Friday, July 16.
The Bus Boat is proposed to be operated by the Srinagar Smart City while the Tourism Department was the executing agency of the project.
Despite repeated attempts, top officials in the Tourism Department in Kashmir could not be contacted for their comments.