The Himachal Pradesh and Punjab governments on Thursday inked a joint venture agreement to build a 3.75-km ropeway to connect the famous shrines of Naina Devi (HP) and Anandpur Sahib (Punjab).
Both Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and his Himachal counterpart,Prem Kumar Dhumal,were present at a meeting in Shimla where Director (HP Tourism) Arun Sharma signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with his Punjab counterpart K S Sra. The project,which will cost Rs 85 crore,will be funded by the two governments on a 50:50 ratio. The project will be executed on the public-private partnership model and build-operate-and-transfer basis by creating a special purpose vehicle and be completed in three years. Of the 3,751-m-long ropeway,while 274.582 m will fall in Punjab,the remaining 3,476.435 m will be in Himachal.
Speaking at the occasion,Badal said that he hoped the project will further strengthen the bond of brotherhood between the two states. The project is a result of a meeting held with Dhumal on March 9,2008,where the idea took shape. Thereafter,a series of official level meetings helped in cementing the deal, he added.
Around 70 lakh devotees visit Sri Naina Devi every year,and out of them,90 per cent visit Anandpur Sahib. The project will reduce air and noise pollution caused by vehicles carrying devotees to Naina Devi, said Badal.
Hailing the move,Dhumal said the ropeway will not only reduce the geographical distance between the two shrines but also bring the people of the two states together. After successful completion of the project,the state will look forward for a similar joint venture to connect Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh with Chandigarh,he added.