The much talked about prospects of an hovercraft service between Surat in south Gujarat and Bhavnagar in the Saurashtra peninsula seems to have brightened with at least three parties having evoked keen interest in the proposal of starting a hovercraft service.
It was exactly ten years back in 1992 that a hovercraft service had started between Surat and Bhavnagar via Ghogha.
However, the service folded up within six months.
It is authoritatively learnt that the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) has decided to start the service most probably by April.
An hovercraft service between Surat and Bhavnagar is the need of the hour as nearly a bulk of the over seven lakh people employed in the multi-million dollar diamond cutting and polishing industry of Surat are from the Saurashtra peninsula, also known as Kathiawar and a majority of these diamond cutters and polishers are from the Bhavnagar and Amreli districts.
With no train connection between Surat and Bhavnagar, private luxury buses and the bus service of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) are the only two available alternatives for ferrying such a big migrant population.
The private luxury bus service operators charge anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150 per head for carrying passengers on the nearly 400 km long route.
These charges skyrocket to Rs 300 to Rs 500 during the annual Dipawali vacation when the diamond cutters and polishers make a beeline for their native homelands. Secondly, the bus journey is also very time consuming.
The hovercraft service is likely to prove a boon to the large population of diamond cutters and polishers as they could travel to their hometown and return to their place of work in Surat within 24 hours.
This is precisely the reason why the Surat Diamond Association (SDA), the apex body of the diamond cutting and polishing industry has been demanding a hovercraft service.