Chandigarh, Sep 28 (PTI) The governments of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here on Friday to set up a ropeway between the prominent religious sites of Sri Anandpur Sahib and Mata Naina Devi. Also Read - Any Coronavirus Patient Spitting On Others Will Now Be Booked For Attempt to Murder in Himachal Pradesh
The MoU signing, which coincided with the 111th birth anniversary of legendary martyr Bhagat Singh, took place in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Himachal counterpart Jai Ram Thakur. Also Read - 'Rare Sight': Snow Leopard Spotted in Himachal's Spiti Valley, Video Amazes Netizens | Watch
The MoU was signed by Secretary of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Punjab, Vikas Pratap Punjab and Additional Chief Secretary of Tourism Himachal Pradesh Ram Subhag Singh. Also Read - 7th Pay Commission Latest News Today: 5% Dearness Allowance Hike For Himachal Pradesh State Employees
Amarinder called the signing of the MoU as “historic” as it would “prove to be mutually beneficial for both the states” On the occasion, Amarinder underlined the need to promote tourism to improve socio-economic indicators. Stressing on the “huge tourism potential” in the region, the Punjab chief minister said it was in the interest of all states neighbouring here to work collectively to facilitate the sector.
Thakur opined that the project should have been completed long ago as it was important for Punjab and HP.
He said the Himachal government had cancelled the project in 2014, however he revived it seeing its importance. He credited Amarinder Singh for supporting the project all through.
Thakur said this project was a sign of Sikh-Hindu brotherhood, as it links the two historically important shrines of Sri Anandpur Sahib and Mata Naina Devi.
He said 25 lakh tourists visit Naina Devi every year and 80 per cent of them are from Punjab.
To be set up in public private partnership (PPP) mode, the 3.5 km-long proposed ropeway is expected to facilitate lakhs of devotees visiting these two historic, religious sites.
A special purpose vehicle will be set up to execute the project, which will be completed at a cost of Rs 250 crore.
Punjab Tourism department has acquired nearly 13 acres for setting up the lower terminal point (LTP) and right of way within its territory for the ropeway project.
While three LTPs will be set up at Sri Anandpur Sahib, an intermediate terminal point (ITP) will be set up at Toba and an upper terminal point (UTP) at Mata Naina Devi.
The total paid up equity for the SPV will be Rs 1 crore, with Rs 50 lakh share each for the two states. As per the MoU, both states will have equal share in the revenue, with concession period of 40 years.
The two chief ministers agreed that the project would ease travel of devotees visiting the two shrines, which were located quite far from each other, with hilly terrain compounding the issue.
Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh Vineet Chawdhry, and Chief Secretary of Punjab Karan Avtar Singh, were among others, present on the occasion.
Amarinder said the company to carry forward the project will be formed soon and that it will have 10 directors, five each from the two stages.
In the initial seven years, no concession fee would be paid by the concessionaire who will be given three years to set up the project. This has been done to ensure that the tariffs remain affordable for the tourists and pilgrims, a statement issued by the Punjab government said.
Notably, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two governments on July, 26, 2012 to set up the ropeway.
The Punjab tourism department had acquired nearly 13 acres for setting up the lower terminal and right of way. However, the MoU was cancelled by the then Himachal Pradesh government on June 3, 2014, the statement said.
In February, 2018, a letter from the Himachal Pradesh chief minister was received by the Punjab government for the project’s revival, following which Amarinder Singh conveyed his consent to the Himachal government.
Subsequently, the Punjab tourism department received the approved MoU from the government of Himachal Pradesh on September 5, 2018. This was followed by the Punjab cabinet giving its approval to the project on September 20, 2018, the statement said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.