Nearly two years after he promised to develop waterways through canals and rivers of Punjab to cover long distances, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will launch on Monday ‘Punjab Harike Water Cruise’, a four-kilometre ride in waters of Harike wetland lake, which is spread over an area of 86 sq km. The bus will be run under the state’s tourism department.
A video clip of rally at Bathinda in January 2015, where Badal and Union Minister for Road, Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, had made claims about water buses in rivers and canals of Punjab to connect cities, has now gone viral. At the rally, Badal had also promised to launch a water bus in Rajsthan feeder canal to connect Faridkot and Malout.
Gadkari had promised to include Sutlej and Beas in his project of developing water highways across country. Later, Punjab did not figure in plans to develop water highways across nation.
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Asked about the bus route in the lake, state’s tourism director Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa said, “After starting from Gurudwara at Harike headworks, the bus will travel on Kacha Road for around two kilometres to reach the ramp. Then, the bus would enter water and take a U-turn towards Gurudwara. It will move almost parallel to 2-km path it travelled by road to reach the ramp. It will remain in water for around 45 minutes. Time is flexible. Then, it will come back to the ramp to come out of water after travelling a total distance of around 4 kilometre in water and move back to shed constructed just opposite to the Gurudwara on other side of Bathinda-Amritsar road.”
“This path of bus has been selected with on the advice from Department of Forests & Wildlife Preservation, Punjab. We have no intention to hurt the migratory birds. We want tourists to see them from a safe distance,” said Randhawa. “We will collect tourists in luxury buses from Amritsar to Harike headworks. We have constructed a shed here where they will start they journey in water bus. The total cost of the project is Rs 9 crore,” he said.