Despite subsidized fare of just Rs 25, no person turned up today for River Jhelum cruise started by Government from Zero Bridge to Khankhah-e-Moulla in summer capital here which has caused disappointment among stakeholders.
The cruise service on historic Jhelum River was started today after the conduct of over month-long trial by Tourism Department from July 11, 2017, for the promotion of the water transport. Officials said promotional service of the Jhelum cruise was operated successfully for a one-and-a-half month and no one was charged for the ride. The officials said that earlier the rate for a ride from Zero Bridge to Khankah-e-Moulla in the downtown city was proposed at Rs 100 but later after suggestions from various stakeholders, it was fixed Rs 25 only per person from one side.
“It was subsidized rate and it was done to make this initiate successful,” the officials said, adding that after a high-level meeting, the services were kick-started today. However, to the utter disappointment of Government and other stakeholders, not a single person turned up for the ride.
Director Tourism Kashmir, Mehmood Ahmad Shah confirmed to Excelsior that no one turned up on the first day. “The services were scheduled to operate twice a day at 10 am and at 4 pm at Rs 25 per head. But no one came for the ride and boats remained locked,” he said.
The Director said it was disappointing that the initiative got zero response from common people on the first day. “Earlier when we were running services on trial basis at free of cost, 15 to 18 people were turning up on an average. We were expecting that now people will turn up but there wasn’t anyone,” he said. Asked whether it was because of lack of advertisement, he said: “No, that is not the case.”
According to Director, the service will boost the tourism as there are many heritage sites on the banks of river Jhelum which tourists will want to see. “But it depends on the response of people and visitors. We hope to see it becoming successful,” Mehmood Shah said. The Tourism Department and Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) has already roped in Shikara owners for their involvement in the initiative and employment generation.
Officials said that Kashmir Motors will train the Shikara owners and provide them motors. “Ultimately, they can run the services and that is why they need to be involved in this. They are being given 50 percent subsidy,” said JKTDC Managing Director, Sarmad Hafeez and hoped that the project will become a success. “People including tourists will get a chance to know another side of Srinagar and of course historical and heritage sites,” he said.
Vice-president of Kashmir Motors, Unfair Aijaz Kitab, said that they have as of now started training of one Shikara owner. “Many Shikara owners have applied for the training and their participation in the initiative but as of now we will train one of them,” he said. However, with zero response to the service on Day 1, all the stakeholders expressed disappointment.