The Punjab Government has launched its amphibious bus project – Harike Cruise – at Harike Wetlands, the largest wetland in North India, to provide fillip to tourist footfall in the state
The Punjab Government has launched its amphibious bus project – Harike Cruise – at Harike Wetlands, the largest wetland in North India. The inaugural ride was flagged off by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The project, aiming to boost tourism in the state, has been set up at a cost of over INR 10 crore.
Hussan Lal, managing director, Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), said, “Punjab has tremendous network of rivers, canals and inland waterways. These waterways have great potential in harnessing the tourist footfall. In order to achieve this objective, Government of Punjab has introduced water-based tourism through amphibious bus at Harike Wetlands. Such an activity will boost the tourism trade and will also help to generate revenue and employment for the state.”
The amphibious vehicle has been built by Advance Amphibious Design in the USA, Amphibious Design India and Automotive Corporation of Goa and features chassis by Swedish automotive company Scania. To make the project operational, a ramp has been constructed at left marginal bund of Harike wetland. For the ease of tourists who come from Amritsar, a tourist reception centre has been set up at the railway station, which will also provide transfer facilities to the boarding point at Harike. The total duration of the tour, including transfers, is around 3 hrs 45 mins.
However, the operations will have been halted for the next 15-20 days as water level in the reservoir has receded to 3.5 feet due to the raising of the main gates of Rajasthan Feeder Canal and Ferozepur Feeder Canal for repairs. The minimum water level required for operating the service is six feet.
“The tour offers tourists a unique experience in the wetlands of Harike where they can enjoy the flora and fauna. A large species of birds and Indus dolphin are found at the confluence of Satluj and Beas. It will be a real feast for the bird lovers. The local populace, where tourists will visit restaurants and hotels for night stay, will also benefit. This will again generate more revenue,” Lal said, while adding, “If the project is successful and the revenue generation is good, then in the next six months, two more buses will be procured.”
The project also includes tourist facilities such as canteen, gazebos, parking, toilets, bird watching towers, bird watching trails among others. The tour is priced at INR 2000 with transfers to the railway station and INR 800 excluding it.
In October 2016, Goa had launched its amphibious attraction, Duck Tours. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) also announced to operate amphibious bus service in the Arabian Sea, Mumbai.