The historic floating restaurant on the Bhakra Canal in Sirhind on the Delhi-Amritsar highway, an erstwhile iconic landmark, is now in shambles owing to poor maintenance and neglect by the state over many years.
The restaurant's historical significance is that its foundation stone was laid by then chief minister Zail Singh in July 1976. The eight-room restaurant, once a centre of buzzing activity with hundreds of passengers travelling on the Delhi-Amritsar route visiting it every day, today it is a mere shadow of its past. Few apart from the travelers on the Delhi-Lahore buses, which make a mandatory stop at the restaurant, visit it.
With a broken refrigerator, rusted roofing which leaks even at the hint of light rains, badly-maintained rooms, it is hardly surprising that the place has no takers.
The steel tubes and wires underwater which keep it afloat and stationery have also rusted weakening the whole structure.
An employee, on condition of anonymity, said the recently-constructed flyover in front of the restaurant was a major reason for it to lose its craze among the public. Still, the place draws tourists from across the world because of its historical value, he said.
The Centre had arranged for the Delhi-Lahore buses to stop at the floating restaurant so that passengers can freshen up, he said. Earlier, the restaurant was under Punjab Tourism Corporation's control, but was later handed over to the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board and estimates of the renovation to be carried out have already been forwarded to higher authorities many times, he said.
He also claimed that an agreement between the Punjab government and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) over renovation and running of the restaurant was in the pipeline.
However, Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Chandigarh, director Navjot Singh Randhawa said the agreement had not materialised because of technical issues and the department had decided to review the project to renovate it.
Tourism minister Sohan Singh Thandal said they had decided to review all aspects of the project as the flyover in front of it reduced visibility to visitors. But, he also promised to bring the floating restaurant back into prominence.