Anandpur Sahib- Naina Devi ropeway project hangs in balance

With no takers, the governments of Punjab and Himachal are set to float fresh tenders for the Anandpur-Naina Devi ropeway project
The road distance between Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi is 24.7 kilometres and the ropeway project will cut it down to 3.5 kilometres. (PTI/Representational image)
The road distance between Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi is 24.7 kilometres and the ropeway project will cut it down to 3.5 kilometres. (PTI/Representational image)
Updated on Dec 15, 2021 03:42 AM IST
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By, Shimla

With no takers for the ambitious aerial ropeway project, aimed at linking the Sikh historic town of Anandpur Sahib to the Hindu religious shrine Naina Devi, the governments of Punjab and Himachal are set to float fresh tenders.

The department will also change the conditions for the multi-crore ropeway project.

The Himachal government had recently floated a bid for the ropeway project, for which a fresh agreement was signed with the Punjab government in 2019. However, it failed to find any takers.

The project has been hanging fire for more than a decade.

The plan for setting up the ropeway project was conceived in 2009 to connect two places of historical and religious importance to Sikhs and Hindus — Anandpur Sahib in Punjab with Naina Devi, located at an altitude of 1,177 metres on Shivalik hills of Bilaspur district in Himachal.

Naina Devi is revered as the place where the eyes of Lord Shiva’s consort Sati fell after she set herself on fire and was cut into 51 pieces by Vishnu’s chakra. It is believed that Guru Gobind too went to Naina Devi and performed a yagna to seek blessings of the Goddess before leaving for his military campaign against the Mughals in 1756. More than 30 lakh tourists visit Naina Devi each year and the majority of them are from Punjab.

“There were no bidders when we floated the tender, modalities and conditions laid in the tender will be reworked,” said Subashaish Panda, secretary, tourism. Himachal Pradesh government and Punjab government had floated a joint venture Shri Anandpur Sahib, Shri Naina Devi ropeway limited, which is headed by Punjab government’s additional chief secretary, tourism.

The project was shelved owing to differences between the then Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh and former Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal.

The first memorandum of understanding (MoU) to execute the project between the two states was signed in July 2012, between chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal. The cost of the proposed project at that time was estimated at 85 crore. Congress when assumed reins shelved the project in June 2014. It was revived by chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who inked a fresh MoU with his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh in 2018.

The road distance between Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi is 24.7 kilometres and the ropeway project will cut it down to 3.5 kilometres. The proposed ropeway alignment includes three terminals, with the lower one to be set up in Punjab and the intermediate and upper terminal to be set up in Himachal Pradesh. The ropeway would have the capacity to cater to at least 800 persons an hour per direction.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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Monday, January 17, 2022