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Ending 77-year long wait, J&K govt to start water transport in Srinagar this summer

February 14, 2024
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Srinagar: A 77-year-long wait is all set to come to an end as the J&K government is all set to start water transport in Srinagar this summer.

Water Transport  Services in river Jhelum and Dal Lake is a project of Srinagar Smart City that aims to revive the ancient public transport system in Srinagar City. The water transport services in  Jhelum and Dal Lake to ferry passengers will ease the traffic on Srinagar roads.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Smart City Limited Dr. Owais Ahmad told The Kashmir Monitor that the water transport project is now in the tendering stage. “ We are now in the project’s tendering stage, and water transport services will begin as soon as the tendering stage gets matured,” he said.

According to an official, 32 electrical boats would be located in Srinagar’s Dal Lake and River Jehlum, connecting all of the major Ghats in the area. The boats’ fares will be similar to those of the valley’s e-buses.

General Manager, Planning and Urban Development, Anuj Malhotra told The Kashmir Monitor that in the next four to five months, water transportation services should start in Dal Lake and Jhelum. 

“Following the stage of tendering, an operator will be chosen to oversee all aspects of water transport services, and the process will then begin,” he said.

Additionally, he said that the valley’s residents will greatly benefit from the water transportation services. “People can travel from one point to another more easily and quickly,” he said.

 For centuries, water transport has been at the heart of the economic activity in Kashmir. Legend says Jhelum was known as `Wyth Prawa’ and it was worshiped during the reign of Lalitadaitya and Awantiwarman.  In recorded history, water transport was modernized by King Zain ul Abideen Budshah (1420 to 1470). He used to cruise in Jhelum in Paranda (an ancient boat). The tradition continued till 1947 when modern buses were introduced for commuting.

Britishers used houseboats to cruise through Jhelum to reach Wullar Lake and Sindh River.  There were several Ghats on the banks of Jhelum which were used as stops for commuters. From Amira Kadal up to the old city of Safa Kadal and Noorbagh, people used to take boats to reach their destinations

Since 1967, people have been demanding the revival of water transport in Kashmir. The traders’ federation had submitted a memorandum to late chief minister GM Sadiq for the revival of water transport as early as possible. 

In fact, under the Smart City Development project, the Ghats on Jheulm are being renovated. More than 20 Ghats have been renovated. Work is underway on other Ghats to make them ready for water transport.

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Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and has covered health, education, business, and culture stories over the past 3 years. She holds a Masters and Honours Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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