The Punjab and Himachal governments on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for an aerial ropeway proposed to connect Naina Devi temple in the hill state to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab.
HP tourism director Dr Arun Sharma and his Punjab counterpart Dr KS Sra signed the MoU for the joint venture project at Darbar Hall of Peterhoff hotel in the state capital. Himachal and Punjab chief ministers Prem Kumar Dhumal and Parkash Singh Badal, respectively, were present on the occasion.
The ropeway would be 3,751 meters long, of which 274.582 metres falls in Punjab area and 3,476.435 metres in Himachal. The project would cost an estimated Rs 85 crore, to be shared on 50:50 basis by both the states and completed in three years.
"It is estimated that about 60 to 70 lakh pilgrims visit Naina Devi temple annually, and the number is growing at an average annual rate of 10%. About 90% of pilgrims visiting Naina Devi come via Anandpur Sahib. Pilgrims also stay overnight or take rest at Anandpur Sahib, before going to Naina Devi," Badal pointed out.
Badal termed the occasion historic for both Himachal and Punjab and pointed out that "chief minister Dhumal has been taking a personal interest in the early execution of the project".
Badal expressed the hope that ropeway would go a long way in reducing carbon emission from vehicles and also help minimising traffic congestions in the area. "Pilgrims have to trek up to two KM to reach the sanctum sanctorum of the temple on a hill top. A ropeway linking the temple with Anandpur Sahib would provide a safe, economical, quicker and comfortable mode of transport for pilgrims, easing congestion on roads and parking sites and also reduce pollution caused due to vehicular traffic, the Punjab chief minister added.
The proposed ropeway alignment includes three terminals, with the lowest to be set up in Punjab and intermediate and upper terminals in Himachal. The ropeway would cater to at least 800 persons per hour in each direction.