Tourism project at Harike sanctuary: Tree houses, eateries to make wetland tourists’ delight
In an attempt to boost tourism at Harike wetland and wildlife sanctuary, the state government is planning to build tree houses, tent houses and restaurants for vacationers at the confluence between Sutlej and Beas rivers.
Under the project estimated at Rs 150 crore, the state government is also planning to make a golf course for tourists at north India’s largest wetland which is spread over 4,100 hectares. As many as 48 pedal boats and 6 e-rickshaws have already arrived at the wetland.
On Saturday, two Congress MLAs—Harminder Singh Gill from Patti and Kulbir Singh Zira from Zira—took stock of the situation on the government’s instructions.
The project was announced by former tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in February on the occasion of World Wetland Day. Sidhu had suggested introducing Kashmir-style shikaras in the wetland to attract tourists. Sidhu had also terminated the water-bus programme introduced in the wetland during the tenure of former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sidhu had also said his government would bring Indus dolphins from Pakistan to the wetland in exchange of crocodiles from Chhatbir zoo.
“We want to make Harike an international tourist destination. The state government has already sanctioned the funds to develop the wetland,” said Gill while talking to HT.
“After surveying the wetland, we have decided to construct restaurants, tree houses (platform constructed above ground level, next to or among the branches of one or more mature trees) and tent houses for visitors at the site where Sutlej and Beas merge,” he added.
The tree houses will be built keeping in mind bird lovers and for those who want to fish, while the tents will be for visitors who wish to stay at night. A golf course will also be established by removing encroachments on the banks of the wetland. Punjab CM Captain Amrinder Singh and tourism minister Charanjit Singh Channi will soon survey the wetland to approve the proposals.
Zira said they have urged the government to provide cruise boats especially for bird watchers. “As many as 48 pedal boats, 24 with four seats and 24 with two seats, have been brought to the wetland at a cost of Rs 9.35 crore. Six e-rickshaws are in service to ferry tourists from Harike head works to the wetland,” the MLA said.
Every winter, more than one lakh migratory birds arrive at Harike from the Himalayas, Europe and Siberia. Some of the regular winged guests sighted in the sanctuary are the large cormorant, purple moorhen, bar-headed goose, white-winged tern, tufted duck and the white-eyed pochard. The wetlands are also home to several species of turtles, snakes and fish. The rare Indus dolphin can also be seen here.
Earlier in 2016, then Punjab government had launched an amphibious bus at Harike to attract tourists but the project failed.