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Punjab tourism and cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu today said he would visit Harike Pattan tomorrow to explore the possibility of developing Harike Wildlife sanctuary as a tourist destination. Sidhu said he would also look at establishing a tourism centre and take stock of the amphibious bus project started by the previous dispensation. During the visit, four MLAs from areas adjoining the region, Parminder Singh Pinki (Ferozepur), Harminder Singh Gill (Patti), Sukhpal Singh Bhullar (Khemkaran) and Kulbir Singh Zira (Zira) will accompany Sidhu. The region would be developed as a hub of tourism with the due consultation of the MLAs of concerned areas, Sidhu said here while interacting with the press after conclusion of day's proceedings of Vidhan Sabha session. The minister said he took the decision after Patti MLA made a query during the Question Hour about developing Harike as a tourist destination. Earlier, during Question Hour while replying to the query, Sidhu said Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is being developed as a tourist attraction under the Asian Development Bank assisted Infrastructure Development Investment Programme for Tourism (Tranche-3 which commenced in 2015) in which eco-tourism development works are being done. These works were tendered out in August 2015 and so far only 29 per cent works have been completed, he said. In addition, decision to introduce amphibious bus in Harike was taken by previous government on August 12, 2015, he added. Funds for this project were received from Punjab Infrastructure Development Board in 2016.
An expenditure of Rs 8.62 crore has been incurred on the purchase of buses, construction of ramp, insurance and other miscellaneous charges, he said. Sidhu said since December 12, 2016 the buses have been operated on 10 days generating revenue of only Rs 64,000 for the government.
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