Authorities abandon boating plan at India Gate

- June 1, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

Public works body turns down tourism department’s request to reintroduce boating at the iconic monument in central Delhi

HALTED: Boating was one of the few outdoor pastimes for Delhiites in summers PHOTO: GETTY

Delhi will no longer host boating activities near the historic India Gate as the authorities have scrapped the project, Patriot has learnt.

An official of Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) stated that Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has abandoned the plan to reintroduce boating at India Gate.

“We wrote to the department last month requesting them to consider the restarting of boating at India Gate. However, we got a response recently from them denying to restart this project,” the official said.

He said that boating stopped in 2018 after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibited the use of groundwater for such activities.

“We were utilising tubewell water so NGT halted the operations through a directive. Later, we learnt that boating project was part of Central Vista Redevelopment Project (CVRP) but nothing happened in all these years,” the official added.

He said that boating was the cornerstone of tourism industry in Delhi.

“We have faced losses worth crores since its cessation, and this issue is being overlooked,” the official lamented.

Old residents have fond memories of boating, which commenced in the 1960s.

“The boating venue at India Gate is one of the oldest and most-visited tourist spots in Delhi. It was a great place to spend your weekend away from the chaos and commotion of the city. With lush green gardens, glimmering fountains, and mesmerising views of the Rajpath and India Gate, it used to make your boating experience absolutely memorable,” said Shankar Singh, 70, a resident of Delhi’s Okhla.

Singh reminisced about growing up and boating near India Gate. 

“I used to go with my family but it is unfortunate to see no efforts are being made by the government to restart this culture,” he emphasised.

India Gate, situated in Lutyens’ Delhi, is surrounded by prominent landmarks like Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, War Memorial, Secretariat Building and a few governments offices.   

Similarly, boating at Old Fort (Purana Qila) lake is also closed since 2016.

Patriot has learnt that the tourism department has urged the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to allow the restart of boating in the lake at Purana Qila, saying it would add attraction to the city and bring tourists to the destination.

“We have sent multiple requests to ASI to allow its restart but they have not responded till date,” the official said. “Our latest letter was dispatched last month only.”

Delhi Tourism offered recreational boating facility at the Purana Qila Lake since 1991. Delhi Tourism and the ASI entered into an agreement in 2007 after the lake was transferred to ASI from the Delhi Development Authority.

As part of the agreement, Delhi Tourism was paying 12.5% of the gross revenue received from boating to the ASI on an annual basis, officials said.

In 2016, the lake dried up for some time due to the negligence of authorities. Later, it was restored but boating continued to remain suspended.  

An ASI official from Delhi government, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Delhi Tourism was responsible for maintaining the monument, including building parking, toilet and facilitation centre.   

“Since they failed to do so, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) was assigned to take up the task. That’s why this project couldn’t move forward,” he said.