SRINAGAR: After nearly four decades, revival of water transport in Srinagar is on the cards. A Kashmir-based company has installed a 35-seater boat on the waters of the Jhelum to ferry passengers between Lasjan and Veer, a distance of over 14 kilometres.
The service, which will be run by the tourism department, is currently working on trial basis, before it is set open for the public. On the boat, a passenger would get facilities of air-conditioning, both hot and cold, a music system, and life saving guards on board for any emergency. The ride will give passengers a scenic view of Srinagar.
The tourism department will promote the boat service, so that more and more people take this mode of transport while travelling in the city.
“It can be easily called a revival,” said Imran Ahmad, the managing director of the company which has installed the boat on the Jhelum. He said the boat is actually part of a project which comprises installation of five jetties on the Lasjan to Veer stretch, funded by the government. Imran said his company had participated in the tender process to get the work done for the jetties.
Earlier, his company had installed 40 boats on the Ganges in India, he added.
The Jammu and Kashmir government began talking about the revival of river transport, which at one point in history was the main source of transportation in Kashmir Valley, in the early 1990s. Since 1999, the revival of river transport was taken up seven times. A project report was also made but never acted on because the agency that did the report, did not share it with the government because it was not paid its fees.
The government believes that river transport will decongest the city centre from heavy traffic, and will boost tourism. In 2017, the Department of Tourism, Kashmir, had started operation of water transport on river Jhelum from the Ghat near GPO Srinagar to Khanqah-e-Moula shrine, on the directions of then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The initiative did not achieve the desired results.
Abdul Hannan, the accounts manager of Imran Ahmad’s company, told Kashmir Reader that these days they are doing the trial runs, and later the boat will be handed over to the government.
“So far, the trials have been successful. But when the boat service would be started, depends on the government. We have no idea about it,” Hannan said.