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Water transport yet to take off in Jhelum

Srinagar, Feb 23: The government is yet to start the much hyped water transport facility in the city.
For two decades, the government has made several promises for Inland Water Transport (IWT) revival in the river Jhelum, but it is still a non-starter.
The proposals and attempts made by the government back in 1999 and then again in 2011-12 fell flat.
After the government’s proposal to revive the service in the year 1999 at a cost of Rs 25 lakh, officials had even chalked out a route from Pampore to Chattabal in Srinagar.
In 2011, the government had said that it had allotted the IWT contract to Kashmir Motors company. Five motor boats were ready to ferry the passengers.
In 2012, the Omar Abdullah-led government had made a trial run of the transport from Pantha Chowk to Chattabal.
In 2017, the minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC), Sham Lal Choudhary had also claimed that an over Rs 300-crore project was submitted to the government of India (GoI) for revival of the inland water transport.
Recently, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Khan also chaired a meeting to review the modalities for starting water transport on Jhelum river.
The Divisional Commissioner reviewed the plans and arrangements required for starting a water transport.
During the meeting he directed the officials of different departments to finalize all the arrangements by considering all stakeholders for starting the services at the earliest.
He had also said that the water transport will comprise of both rapid and slow speed service matching the ambience and need of the concerned stretch of the river.
He said the water transport would also help the tourists and those who want to explore the city.
Director Tourism, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, said water transport would be started in March, if the water level will be good.
“Last year, we had started the water transport facilities without any fare. It was available free for the people. But when we started charging people for the same transport, nobody turned up,” he said.
“We will start the water transport from the month of March because water level will increase till then. The government would also involve the local Shikarawalas to empower them.”
“Last time local Shikarawalas said their business will be affected if water transport will be started without their participation,” he said.