Sidhu halts Sukhbir’s amphibious bus project at Harike, dismisses it as ‘Badal da gharukka’
Sukhbir had introduced the amphibious bus amid much fanfare to promote tourism at the Harike lake, which is at the Sutlej-Beas confluence. Inaugurated in December last year, it had been in choppy waters ever since. Its inauguration was postponed as the water level in the lake was not sufficient.punjab Updated: Jun 18, 2017 10:49 IST
Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday halted former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s much-hyped amphibious bus project that was operational in the Harike lake in Tarn Taran district.
Sidhu, who visited Harike to review the Rs 10-crore project, said: “The project is not financially viable. During the trial run, too, it damaged crops over hundreds of acres when water was released for it.”
Sukhbir had introduced the amphibious bus (a vehicle that can run both on land and water) amid much fanfare to promote tourism at the Harike lake, at the Sutlej-Beas confluence. Inaugurated in December last year, it had been in choppy waters ever since.
The inauguration was postponed for months as the water level in the lake was not sufficient.
Then, after a short ride for Sukhbir on the day of inauguration, the bus was locked away.
Its critics had also questioned the initial design, calling the bus a “gharukka” (an improvised vehicle used in rural areas).
The bus was later sent back to Goa, where it had been manufactured, in February and replaced with a new “better-looking” one, as promised by Sukhbir.
However, weed in the lake kept posing trouble.
Finally, the bus started running in the lake around 15 days back, but weed and low water level continued to affect its operations.
‘Won’t allow Badals’ businesses to flourish’
Calling the amphibious bus “Badal da gharukka”, Sidhu said: “This project is halted from today. This will not work till Punjab’s pride PRTC buses don’t become profit-making.”
The minister said the bus is struggling to attract visitors and is also a disturbance to birds in the Harike wetland sanctuary. He said the Punjab government will also conduct a probe into the entire project and its tendering.
“Today at a time when the state roadways are running in losses, the (transport) businesses of Badals are flourishing,” said the ministers. “Nothing has happened in the past 10 years... The government worked for just one family.”
The cabinet minister, who was accompanied by Khemkaran MLA Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, Patti MLA Harminder Singh Gill and other local leaders, said the Congress government will not allow businesses of Badals to flourish.
Sidhu also announced to convert Harike wetland into a tourism hub, without disturbing the bird sanctuary.