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J&K govt to start water transport in Srinagar next year; 32 e-boats to ply in Jhelum, Dal

July 12, 2023
In a bid to revive water transport in the Kashmir Valley a private company on Thursday launched a bus boat on trial basis in the river Jhelum 3 scaled 1

SRINAGAR:  Forget crowded buses, try e-boats from next year.

Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to start water transport in Srinagar from next year. A private agency is being hired to operate e-boats in Jhelum and Dal Lake to ferry passengers. This will ease the traffic on Srinagar roads.

“Nearly 32 boats will run on different routes in Jhelum and Dal Lake. Routes will be earmarked and these e-boats will run like public transport. It will only be for passengers,” Athar Amir Khan, Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, told The Kashmir Monitor.

The highlight of the water transport will be affordability and punctuality. “If you take a boat this time, you shall have to shell out Rs 500. It will be different altogether. The fare will be on par with public transport, say Rs 20 to Rs 50. What makes it more convenient is that after every 15 minutes, a boat will arrive and leave the Ghat. So passengers need not wait for hours,” said Athar.  

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. In fact, the traders’ federation had submitted a memorandum to late chief minister GM Sadiq for the revival of water transport as early as possible. 

“We are starting only passenger transport. It will take eight to nine months for the company to procure the boats. Plus Jhelum needs some dredging which we will be taking care of. Inshallah next year, we are hopeful that the water transport will see the light of day,” said Athar.In fact, under the Smart City Development project, the Ghats on Jheulm are being renovated. “We have renovated around 20 Ghats so far. Work is underway on around 15 Ghats which will be completed as per schedule,” said Athar.

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