In a major embarrassment to the outgoing Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government in Punjab, the much talked-about amphibious bus, 'Harike Cruise' has failed to deliver. The dream project of Punjab deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who launched the bus on December 12, 2016 while saying “What I promised I did”, apparently to take credit in a 'hurry', is waiting to open for public.
The visitors who enjoyed the bus ride on the inaugural day had no idea that the government brought the bus here only for 'trial'. Since then the visitors have failed to get the similar experience. The bus, which was brought for a trial was sent back to Goa and now a new bus has been introduced at the site last week.
Sources said, unlike first bus, which was made in Goa, the new bus has been imported from the United States of America. However, the 48 seated-bus was assembled in Goa. As the first bus was sent back to Goa, people had been making different remarks on the social media and termed it as a ‘failed’ dream project of Sukhbir.
When asked, Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director of Krishna HoHo Solution firm, is looking after the operations and maintenance of the much touted project 'Harike Cruise', said, “The new bus has arrived and we are ready to launch it for public. The activity will have to halt for 15-20 days as the water level in the reservoir is low for running the operation of bus,” he said.
On the other hand, sources said that the entire exercise is likely to take over one month as the Punjab irrigation department is yet to complete repairs at the main gates of the Rajasthan feeder canal and the Ferozepur feeder canal.
“A huge chunk of public money has been washed out by Punjab deputy CM. Instead of providing basic facilities in government led schools, facilities for cancer patients in hospitals and financial assistance to farmers, such projects were launched that remained on papers till date”, said, Chander Suta Dogra, Aam Adami Party (AAP) spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Punjab tourism minister, Sohan Singh Thandal, while talking to The Statesman, said, "Everything is in place. The hue and cry over the Harike Cruise will come to an end as the department is going to open it for public in next few days". It may be recalled that the first bus was sent back confidentially. Still, the act was exposed and went viral on social media. The bus has a four km ride in the water and on land.