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Mini cruise at Pong Dam soon

The Tourism Department has constituted a committee, headed by Chief Engineer (BBMB), along with its own officials, to look into the technical aspects and fix the route of the mini cruise to be started in the Pong Dam following the grant of NOC by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). The committee is expected to submit its report by the end of this month.The Asian Development Bank has approved Rs 6 crore for the purchase of the mini cruise which will prove to be a big attraction for the tourists. “There are strict restrictions imposed by the BBMB in its conditional NOC and we will have to adhere to it if the facility has to function smoothly,” said officials. It is only after the committee finalises the route along with other technicalities that the process of purchase of the mini cruise will be initiated.The mini cruise will be able to accommodate about 50 persons and will have a deck and restaurant, along with other facilities. The launch of the mini cruise is expected to help enhance tourist arrivals in Kangra region and specially the Pong Dam area. Good connectivity and accessibility of Pong Dam to Pathankot, Jammu, Punjab and Delhi is one of the main reasons for the move to launch the mini cruise in this water body.Pong Dam wetland now called Maharana Pratap Sagar came into existence due to the construction of a dam at Pong across the river Beas which was completed during the year 1975-1976. This largest man made wetland of northern India has been declared a wildlife sanctuary and was declared a wetland of national importance by the Centre in 1994.It was in 2002 that the Pong Dam wetland was designated as the one of the international importance. This is the first major wetland which potentially offers a transitory resting reserve for the migratory birds such as bar-headed geese, ruddy shelduck, pintails, coots, pochards, gulls, grebes, cormorants, mallards and numerous waders coming from the trans-Himalayan zone in the winter season when the wetlands in Europe and north and Central Asia have frozen and there is great scarcity of food.A Rs 3.11 crore management and conservation plan has been proposed for the wetland by the Council for Science, Environment and Technology.

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