IRCTC to develop tourist complexes for Lahore-Delhi bus passengers

The Punjab government has tied up with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation for the development of two of its tourist complexes in Kartarpur and Sirhind.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Mohali | Published: July 5, 2012 1:22:13 am

The Punjab government has tied up with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the development of two of its tourist complexes in Kartarpur and Sirhind.

Both these tourist centres are stoppages for those travelling on the Delhi-Lahore bus run by the Delhi Transport Corporation. The Magnolia Complex in Kartarpur and the Bougainvillea Floating Restaurant in Sirhind are otherwise popular attractions for those travelling on this route. The IRCTC is expected to renovate the two complexes and run it in collaboration with the Punjab government.

“These two complexes could not have been given on lease to private parties through the public private partnership (PPP) model as these fall on the Lahore-Delhi bus route. As a result we went into collaboration with a government agency,” said VB Kumar,MD,Punjab State Tourism Development Board.

While the future of these two complexes is now looking bright,most of the other such complexes in Punjab continue to be in shambles. While the ownership of the tourist complexes is with the tourism board,the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) has undertaken the leasing of these out to private operators under the PPP model. However,following the economic downturn,not many private parties have shown interest in running these.

In 2006,the Punjab Tourism Developemnt Corporation (PTDC) had sold some of the tourist complexes at throwaway prices. The then cabinet led by Captain Amarinder Singh had approved the disinvestment and sale of all the 18 tourist complexes and four holiday homes in Punjab. Among others,the Queen’s Flower Tourist Resort in Neelon and the Gulmohar Tourist Complex (2 star) in Pathankot were sold at throwaway prices by the government. The disinvestment plan was however given up after former tourism minister Hira Singh Gabria in the Badal cabinet suspected a scam in the sale of these complexes.

The Pinkcassia Tourist Complex in Ropar was leased out to the Alchemist Group by the PIDB two years ago but it is yet to be developed. Sources say that the process of leasing out took longer than expected and now finally on June 20 the lease agreement has been signed by the group with the PSTDB. It is expected that work on the complex will now begin.

The Water Lily Tourist Complex,also in Ropar,was also successfully bid out to be leased to another private party but the bidder backed out. The Board is now preparing to rebid the complex. “We have changed the criteria for the choice of bidders to include only those parties which have some earlier experience of running restaurants or such complexes,” said Kumar.

For the tourist complex – Chandni at Nidampur in Sangrur and another at Mughal Sarai near Shambhu,the PIDB has received single bids. “We will be seeking the advice of the government regarding the single bids we have received. In case we get the government’s nod to go ahead,these two complexes too will be on track soon,” added Kumar.

The Silver Oak Tourist Complex in Malout on the Dabwali road and Kadamba Tourist Complex in Nangal is yet to be leased out. In Faridkot,the Punjab government leased out its complex to a private party on May 21,2012.

The Amaltas tourist complex in Ludhiana’s periphery is also likely to be leased out by the PIDB. The complex is controlled by the forest department and in order to lease it out the forest department will have to be given an equal amount of land by the tourism department. Sources said talks with the forest department are on.

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