Ropeway projects envisioned for Devbhoomi usually find light at slow rate of progress. Taking cue from the most recent one Tuttikandi to Rani Jhansi park ropeway initiated more than two and half years ago is yet to procure permission from Ministry of forest and environment. Similar fate was noticed during construction of Jakhu Ropeway project. Even the Dharamshala- Mc Lodganj project has not moved much after ribbon cutting.
Termed by some, as a Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s birthday gift to the city of Shimla, Tutikandi- Rani Jhansi Park Ropeway was inaugurated on June 23rd 2015. Yet more than couple of years gone by it seems the ropeway has been forgotten. Where the entire focus is on building Tutikandi parking, the landing site of the project at Jakhu has turned into a junkyard. In the bliss of ignorance construction debris, wood, timber, etc are dumped on the site, which also carries the inaugural plate of the Ropeway project.
Sources report that the department of forest is yet to finalize the project report, to be sent to Ministry of forest and environment for clearance. They also inform that after application to MOEF getting the clearance is not easy task too. As in such projects there are hundreds of trees which are axed and that usually become a road block. A reference for such instance is Jakhu ropeway which took more than 10 years to start. Even the 4 lanning of NH 22 is getting delayed due to environmental issues.
This Shimla ropeway project aimed at easing the traffic congestion of the city goes during peak season. The chief minister during inauguration had said the ropeway would be a safe and modern mode of transportation which besides saving travel time would help in reducing the pollution level of the city. He had said that it could be integrated with the existing public transportation system and could save the city of traffic jams. He had said it would also boost tourism in Shimla as tourists could enjoy the ropeway right from Tutikandi to the Mall and further Jakhu Mandir as its terminals were close to the Jakhu ropeway near to Jodha Niwas.
The ropeway would carry 1000 commuters on both sides in one hour and the company is targeting 15 lakhs commuters per annum. However at this pace of progress by the time ropeway would come into operation, 1000 per hour capacity would be less, as the population is increasing every year multifold and so are the traffic and other hassles.
The Shimla Municipal Corporation was even eying income of Rs 10.62cr per annum. The project has been allocated to Usha Braco limited (UBL) who to build it on Public Private Partnership mode for period of 40 years.
However iIt is well evident that if the project report for MOEF is not finalized yet, then construction stage is a distant dream. The pace displayed by the authorities in this project, clearly suggests that this one would also meet the same fate as have many other such projects. Perhaps authorities should focus on creating solutions with minimum loss to environment, so that projects can come to light faster.