Planned to cater to entertainment needs of people of Punjab, the ambitious Rs. 600-crore Recreational Amusement Park, to come up near Mattewara area on the banks of Sutlej river in Ludhiana district, is moving at a snail's pace.
Though the district administration in June 2012 identified around 1,400 acres in Mattewara as part of land pooling, over a year later, the state government is yet to begin the next process of acquisition of land.
Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) - a company hired by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) to study all technicalities involved in the project and feasibility of different sections proposed in the park, had also submitted their detailed report to the government in the August last year.
However, though the park is termed one of dream projects of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the government is yet to order land acquisition for the project.
According to the detailed reports of land pooling submitted by the district administration to the PIDB and the state government, eight villages surrounded by Mattewara, mainly Salempura, Hardes Nagar and Sekhowal, have enough government land that can be acquired for the project.
Besides, there is also availability of around 2,000 acres of thick forestland in the surrounding areas of Mattewara, a portion of which is to be developed into forest landscape destination. As per a district forest officer, forest department has also given approval for the project.
As part of the project, a turf club on around 140 acres, an entertainment city, lakes, safari, a five-star hotel, colleges, a jungle retreat (for walks in woods), water park and many other amusement places, had been proposed. The PIDB plans to develop this project in Public Private Partnership (PPP) Mode.
According to a PIDB general manager, who wished not to be named, the turf club was the first project to be started by the PIDB, and the initial deadline for commencement of the project was in December last year. "But the project has been delayed because land has not been acquired for the project," he said.
A PIDB official, requesting anonymity, said a few multinational construction giants, including the DLF, Larson and Turbo and TATA, had shown interest in developing the recreational park.
When contacted, PIDB managing director Anurag Aggarwal said, "I can only tell you that work is in process. You will see things getting materialised very soon." Delay over decision on Casinos also a reason..!!!
Sources in the PIDB and the state government have revealed that the amusement park has also been held up because of the delay in a decision on casinos, which are also part of plan. On the pattern of Goa and Sikkim, the state government had decided to build casinos in the Mattewara project.
A three-member team, comprising a PIDB official and two members from IL&FS, in February this year, had also studied the possibility of installing slot machines and casinos in Punjab.
But it were the political fallouts of introducing casinos in Punjab, sources in the deputy CM's office disclosed, owing to which the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was not sure on going ahead with the casinos.
Total cost of the project: R600 crore
Turf club: R150 crore
Five star hotel: R150 crore
Other tourism projects: R300 crore
Land pooled for the park: Over 1,400 acres
Main recreational activities: Casino (not final), entertainment city, lakes, safari, a horse race course, a five-star hotel, colleges and a jungle retreat (for walks in woods), water park.