With no bidders coming forward to take up the ropeway project between Toba village and Sri Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur district, the Himachal Pradesh tourism department will float another tender to invite bidders.
“Not a single bidder has evinced interest in the ropeway project. Fresh bids will be invited on October 12,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corporation managing director Mohan Chauhan told Hindustan Times.
While earlier the starting point of the project was to be located in Rampur village in Anandpur Sahib of Punjab’s Rupnagar district, it was changed to Toba village in Bilaspur, with the aim of making the project more economically viable for Himachal Pradesh.
Conceived seven years ago, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project was inked between the then Himachal Pradesh chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, and his counterpart in Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, in March 2012. Estimated to cost Rs 85 crore, the project was to be completed by the two states on 50:50 cost-sharing basis in three years.
However, on assuming power in Himachal, the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government in December 2013 cancelled the MoU between Himachal and Punjab. The cabinet during the winter session of the Vidhan Sabha was of the view that the project was not economically viable for Himachal Pradesh as it would have to shell out more for land acquisition.
The decision was taken in view of the report of the highlevel committee constituted by the government to review the ropeway project. The committee included principal secretary (tourism), law secretary, finance secretary and director tourism.
Of the total 2,800 square kilometres of land required for creating infrastructure for the aerial ropeway, only 825 square kilometres of land falls in Himachal, while the remaining is in Punjab. Besides, the government observed that Himachalis would have less business opportunities if the take off point was in Rampur, Punjab, which is estimated to generate several business avenues for locals.
Know the project
The aerial length of the ropeway is 3,751 metres, of which 274 metres falls in Punjab and 3,476 metres in Himachal Pradesh. The project is aimed at reducing the number of vehicles to the Sri Naina Devi temple that receives about 60 lakh pilgrims annually, with the rush increasing during the Navratras. About 90% of the visitors to the temple make their way via Anandpur Sahib.
Initially, the proposal included three terminals, with the starting point in Rampur, Punjab, and the intermediate and upper terminals at Toba village in Himachal Pradesh. Now all stations would be in Toba village. The ropeway would have the capacity to transport at least 800 persons per hour per direction.