Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government plans to launch a luxury bus-boat service on river Jhelum to revive water transportation in Srinagar and attract more tourists. On Thursday, a private company called Sukhnag Enterprises conducted the bus-boat trial run under the supervision of marine engineers.
Director of Sukhnag, Imran Malik, told this daily that the specially designed boat was purchased from a European country and meets all the safety and security requirements. ‘It can carry 35 people – 30 passengers and five crew members. Four crew members will be rescuers and one will be the operator,’ he said. According to Imran, all passengers boarding the bus-boat will receive life jackets and will have to wear them while onboard. ‘Life jackets will be available on every seat and passengers are required to wear them after boarding.’ According to the government, the route will run from Pantha-Chowk (south of Srinagar) to Veer Chattabal in downtown Srinagar.
The bus boat will stop at seven locations: Pantha Chowk, Rajbagh, Peerzo, Polo View, Amira Kadal, Khankahi Moula and Veer Chattabal. An air conditioner and an LCD television are included in the luxury boat. Imran said it would cover 16 kilometers in 40 minutes. He says roads are already congested and in need of maintenance. The use of water transport will ease commuters’ hardships.
Sukhnag will hand over the five boats to the Tourism Department, including one bus boat, two 20-seater taxi boats, one leisure boat and one rescue boat. The department will operate the boats to revive Srinagar’s water transport system. ‘The Tourism Department will be responsible for launching the luxury boat-bus,’ Imran said. The operator of the company and the marine engineers would train government personnel. The seven-day training program for government employees will begin this Saturday.