Water Transport

Several attempts have been made in the past to revive and sustain a water-based transport system in Srinagar city. However, these plans have not met with much success. In 2012, water taxi service had been started on the Jhelum in an effort to promote an alternative means of transport to counter the traffic snarls on city roads. However, the project did not find favour with the commuters even though it had managed to catch the attention of tourists. Now, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Vijay Kumar Bidhuri recently chaired a meeting to review the Selection of the Agency for operations of Water Transport Services in River Jhelum Dal Lake in Srinagar. The Water Transport is a flagship project of Srinagar Smart City Limited (SSCL) which aims to revive the water-based public transport system in Srinagar. The Div Com underscored the imperative need for a water transport system as an additional mode of transportation. Recognizing the growing demands of a burgeoning city, the introduction of water-based transport not only serves as a practical solution to ease traffic congestion but also contributes to the city’s charm, reinforcing its identity as the “Venice of the East.” One of the key directives from the Divisional Commissioner was the swift finalization of routes and fare structures for the water transport system. This strategic planning is pivotal to the project’s success, ensuring that the service is not only efficient but also accessible and affordable for a wide spectrum of the population. Beyond the pragmatic advantages of decongesting roads and offering an alternative mode of transit, the envisaged water transport system carries cultural significance. Srinagar’s water bodies have long been integral to the city’s heritage. Introducing a modern and efficient water transport system not only aligns with contemporary urban planning but also preserves and enhances the cultural fabric that defines Srinagar. The government’s vision extends to positioning water transport as a vibrant attraction for both locals and tourists. The call for tenders, as directed by the Divisional Commissioner, marks the next crucial step in the implementation of the water transport project. This process will open avenues for public-private partnerships, encouraging investments and expertise to converge in the development of a modern and efficient water transport system for Srinagar. As the project advances, considerations for environmental sustainability and safety measures must remain at the forefront. The water transport system should not only complement the city’s aesthetic but also adhere to best practices in ensuring the well-being of passengers and the preservation of the aquatic ecosystem. The water taxis have also got the potential of being a major tourist attraction in Srinagar. As River Jhelum passes through the old Srinagar city, water taxis can take visitors to heritage destinations like Khanqah-e-Moula, Maharaj Gunj, shrine of Hazrat Bulbul Shah and other shrines and temples of ‘Shehr-e-Khas’. Visitors can also go to the craft centers of the old city and simultaneously go for heritage walks. Therefore, these taxis can significantly boost heritage tourism and attract visitors from all over the globe.

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