‘Shikaras’ and dolphins for Harike Wetland

Jaswant Singh Gandam
India Post News Service

PHAGWARA: For enhancing tourist attraction of Harike Wetland, there is a plan to release 100 Indus River dolphins into it and introduce Kashmiri-style ‘shikaras’

Addressing World Wetland Day at Harike Wetland, Punjab Tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said these dolphins will be brought from Pakistan in exchange of ‘ghariyals’.

“We have surplus ‘ghariyals’ at Chhatbir zoo in Mohali while Pakistan has ample Indus dolphins. So, I am going to take up the matter with Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and, hopefully, get more than 100 dolphins for the wetland which will add to its tourism attraction”, said minister.

“Further, the department is planning to replace the amphibious bus with Kashmiri-style ‘shikaras’ at the 4,100 hectares wetland”, said Sidhu.

The amphibious bus, known as ‘gharuka’ in local parlance, was introduced in the wetland during SAD-BJP government.

Sidhu said, “Having sought a viability report on the water bus, we are going ahead with termination of the contract. We have found that while Rs 9 crore had been spent to start the project, we have so far earned only Rs 66,000.We will auction the bus soon. If there are no takers, we will use it for Gurdaspur villagers, who remain cut off because of the river acting as a barrier”.

“Harike Wetland attracts a large number of migratory birds every year and, this year, a record number of 1.25 lakh birds have arrived at Harike”, added Sidhu.

“The department has already spent 10 crore on infrastructure at the wetland – an interpretation centre, bird watch towers, bird hides, observation tower, canteen, parking and facilities”, he said.

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