Amphibious buses, soon a reality in Punjab

The government has taken fresh initiatives to promote tourism in the state, particularly in the areas around the water bodies which so far have not been on the favourite list of visitors who visit Punjab. One of the main projects which may be first of its kind in the region is the introduction of amphibious buses which would soon be seen in the state water bodies. The buses would be part of a new ambitious project of Punjab government which is aimed at promoting water tourism in the state.

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The announcement to start amphibious buses was made by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal during a massive rally in Bathinda in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari last year. While making an announcement the deputy chief minister had claimed “the buses will ride on water and on the road and passengers can catch fish while riding on the bus.”

Though the opposition and critics are apprehensive and have expressed reservations over feasibility of such projects, the government’s detailed modalities coupled with the conviction of deputy chief minister is likely to make the innovative project a big success.

Junior Badal has even on his official Facebook page, has declared that the amphibious buses will be on track soon.

Details of the project   

To start with the amphibious buses would be introduced in Harike wetlands at the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers.  The Harike wetland spreads into the three districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala and covers an area of 4100 hectares.
As per the plans, after offering sightseeing tour on land at Harike headworks, the dual-mode bus would take the visitors to lake so as to provide them glimpses of the rich biodiversity of Harike wildlife sanctuary. With an area of over 8,600 hectares, the wetland around Harike is an important abode for the birds migrating from across the international frontiers and is a centre of attraction for the bird lovers. Notably, Indus Dolphin too was recently sighted in the Beas river in the water body. And Now Punjab Government is also planning to release 10 gharials in the Harike wetlands as the first step to increase their numbers and to attract more tourists.

Status of the project
Already the tenders asking manufacturers to provide one such dual-mode bus have been floated by the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB). The department has also invited representatives of manufacturing firms to give a presentation about various features of their bus units and how they can be useful for the purpose for the state.

About the duel mode bus
The amphibian bus which would be well equipped with indispensable accessories like life-jackets, and other techniques would have capacity to carry 60 persons including 10 children. The estimated cost of each bus is between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 crore. According to government officials, the decision to purchase more buses would be taken after evaluating the performance of the first unit.

The Government is hopeful of the success of the scheme and is expecting hat the project would put Punjab on the world map from tourism point of view.

A few indirect projects
In fact travel by rivers, which is being taken by the union government in a big way is expected to help improving the road infrastructure in the state. “I have asked the Punjab Government to work out removal of canals on Satluj and Beas for waterways involving hovercrafts. There are 101 waterway projects under consideration to ease road and rail travel in the country,” said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, during his visit to Punjab last year.

Punjab government meanwhile is hopeful that with the initiative would go a long way in promoting the water tourism in the state.