Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu surprised many by announcing to ground the ambitious water bus project of former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in Harike Lake on Saturday. He was on a visit to inspect the Harike water bus project. The administration had made an arrangment to give him a ride on the bus. He, however, made a sudden announcement, “Aaj ton Badalan da Ghruka band. (Badals’ water bus joke is grounded today). This project is causing loss to 5,000 farmers. It is also disturbing the birds at Harike Lake. It will not run from today.” “I had gone there to facilitate Sidhu’s special ride. But I was surprised when he announced to ground it. We will request the to minister to reconsider his decision,” said contractor of the project Sanjeev Agarwal.
Sanjeev was running the project on a 20% share in the income from bus. This water bus always remained in headlines since its annoucment by former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal in January 2015 and he also projected it as one of the SAD-BJP government’s many achievements. Meanwhile, Sidhu announced a probe onto the contracts given by the previous government to run tourism projects in the state. “Punjab Roadways is running under a loss of Rs 350 crore due to the inefficiency of the previous regime — which was in power for 10 years.Whereas, the number of buses operated by the Badal family has rapidly increased. Illegally plying buses in the state would be stopped soon which would result in the PRTC coming out of the red.”
Sidhu, however, said that it was his steadfast resolve to transform Harike Pattan into a tourism hub of the state. Sidhu also said that a comprehensive tourism policy for the state is being formulated under the guidance of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. He also said that this policy would be announced soon and would lead to the creation of employment avenues for the youth apart from accounting for increased tourist inflow. He also said that a park would come up at a cost of Rs 8 crore in Patti city for the benefit of the people. He also said that the fire brigade facility in Patti would also be provided in the next two years.