Two pieces of uplifting news concerning the well-being of our city's lakes and its aesthetic appeal have recently emerged. On Friday, the path to introduce 15 electric and solar-powered boats on Pichola Lake and Swaroop Sagar was cleared. The Municipal Corporation has now reviewed the financial bids submitted during the tender process, and MM Travels has emerged as the top bidder. Also, significant progress was made in the construction of the road adjacent to the slum settlement that has repeatedly made headlines for encroachment near the railway station.
The operation of these electric boats holds the promise of reducing pollution in these lakes significantly. Moreover, it will contribute to the preservation of aquatic life and ensure the safety of our drinking water sources.
The Municipal Corporation has allocated approximately Rs.33 lakh for this project, aiming to expand the road to a length of 200 meters (stretching from the tower to the liquor store) and carry out repairs on the roadside drains and sewers.
This road's width will be increased from two feet to fifteen feet, based on the available space near the slum settlement. Given its strategic location in front of the city railway station, this road holds immense importance for both city residents and the tourists who visit our city.
In the boat tender, the Municipal Corporation has garnered an additional revenue of 2.27 crores. According to the set rates, this will translate to an extra annual income of 2 crores 27 lakhs 60 thousand. The previous firm had been contributing an annual sum of 3.51 crores to the Municipal Corporation. However, the new proposal by MM Travels suggests an increased payment of 5.78 crores annually.
The Municipal Corporation received applications from a total of 6 agencies interested in operating the boats. Among these, three agencies were excluded during the technical bid evaluation process. From the remaining three, MM Travels offered the highest rate.
As per the terms of the contract, the agency will adhere to the initial rate specified in the tender for the first year. Over the course of the five-year tender, there will be a yearly increment of 10% in the payment made to the Municipal Corporation by the agency.
2 boats will operate in Swaroop Sagar for the first time
As per the Municipal Corporation's plan, a total of 15 electric CNG boats will be deployed, with 2 designated for operation in Swaroop Sagar and the remaining 13 boats to be operated in Pichola Lake. It's noteworthy that Swaroop Sagar will be hosting boating for the first time, and an additional rescue boat will operate independently. The Municipal Corporation had initially invited tenders for boat operation on September 18, 2023. Technical bids were opened on October 4 2023, followed by the unveiling of financial bids.
Prior to this development, an environmental organization dedicated to lake conservation had filed a petition in the High Court, expressing concerns about the escalating pollution levels in the lakes. In response, the High Court had issued an order directing the Municipal Corporation to replace the petrol and diesel-powered boats with electric and solar-powered alternatives.
In accordance with these court orders, the Municipal Corporation subsequently issued a fresh tender for boat operations. Notably, some private hotels in the vicinity of Pichola Lake have also adopted electric boats to comply with the High Court's directives.