An under construction river boat-cruise on the bank of the Narayani River in this recent picture. Photo: Sabita Shrestha/Republica
CHITWAN, July 21: Preparations to start riverboat cruise in Narayani River before the Dashain festival are going on in full swing.
“Our team is working on the project at full speed. We expect to complete the construction of the station and other infrastructures required for the riverboat cruise very soon,” said Ram Chandra Kandel, managing director of Rhino Water Entertainment Pvt Ltd, on Saturday.
The company is building the station and other infrastructures for docking the riverboat cruise at Gyaneshwor Community Forest area of Kavreghat, Bharatpur Municipality – 16. It has reached an agreement with the community forest to operate the facility for 20 years. According to Kandel, a two-year feasibility study was conducted before initiating the project.
“It took two years to select a spot and decide other things. We did extensive consultation with experts and field visits were carried out for every minute thing,” he said. “Environmental aspects of the project, such as the water level, water currents, possible challenges, among others, have been studied from different angles.”
According to Kandel, the riverboat cruise will be two-storied and have a capacity for 200 passengers at a time. The company is building 100 feet long and 25 feet wide boat cruise.
“We are planning to operate it in three shifts,” said Kandel. “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner river cruises.”
Kandel stated that those who love to enjoy to sail in the morning while having breakfast would be able to get on the morning cruise. And tourists who love to have lunch or dinner on the ship would be able to get on the boat cruise during those hours. “On the cruise, guests will be offered great food service. Each of the cruise trips will be of three hours,” he added. The company is considering to test rides within a few weeks. It will sail from Kavreghat to Devghat and get back.
According to Kandel, the entire cost of the project may reach Rs 350 million. “If we look at the cost from the beginning till until the final stage of the project, it will be around Rs 350 million,” he said.
The company had started working on building necessary infrastructures since March. The cruise is being constructed on the bank of the Narayani River bank using Norwegian technology. “The technology is Norwegian, and an Indian company is building it,” said Kandel.
Kandel informed that the company has already taken due permission from the government for the operation of the cruise. The government of Province – 3 has provided Rs 9.5 million to the company to construct embankments on river banks near to its port.
“We have received permission as per Tourism Industry Service Act 2070, the provincial government has provided a budget for constructing embankments too,” he said.
As the country is preparing for Visit Nepal year next year, the cruise service is expected to be one of the greatest attractions. Kandel said that the riverboat cruise would be solely used for entertainment purpose, not transportation. “We believe that it will be a thrilling experience for tourists. We hope this will greatly add value to the local tourism industry,” he said. “Nautical tourism is not that popular in Nepal yet despite the country being rich in water. This is the beginning, and we expect that it will transform the Narayani River bank into a popular recreation center,” he added.
Kandel further claimed the company has seriously considered the safety of its cruise passengers. Safety and comfort of tourists and visitors won’t be compromised at all, he said. “For now, the crew operators and members would be all foreigners. Later, Nepalis will gradually take over. We are very much serious about taking safety measures,” he stated.
Meanwhile, chairperson of the community forest Rajan Adhikari informed that the forest area was given on lease to the company at the rate of Rs 350,000 annually. “We are happy that it will add a new chapter in the history of the tourism industry,” he said.