The sudden shutdown of adventure sports or commercial operations at the Sabarmati Riverfront after a fanfare debut has become a common storey of AMC’s misadventures.
The local body’s complete lack of interest in operating and maintaining these facilities is clear. The country’s first Zipline and Seaplane facilities have descended into the Sabarmati River. The boating service is only available on occasion: it is currently stopped due to low water levels.
The seaplane service is on hold, but plans are in the works to start offering chopper joyrides along the riverfront. There is already a helipad in place. Tenders have been floated, but suggestions for a floating restaurant and river cruise have taken a backseat.
In 2014, Zipline opened on the riverbank, making it India’s first of its kind facility in a city. The facility, which was constructed up near Sardar Bridge in a remote region, offers aerial rope slides across the river. It had a 350-meter slide with a maximum height of 20 metres.
In the first two months, the response was positive. At a cost of Rs 1 crore, a public-private partnership (PPP) project based on a revenue-sharing model was launched. Between Rs 200 and Rs 400 was set as the charge.
Zipline withered away after two months due to a lack of interest. One of the reasons was that the facility was built up in a remote riverbank area that required an almost two-kilometer walk to get. Second, the riverfront parking remained blocked during holidays and festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Janmashtami.
Many amusement attractions in parks and along the riverfront were closed after the Kankaria tragedy in July 2019, which resulted in two deaths and numerous injuries due to the collapse of a pendulum ride.
The zipline cables were unexpectedly removed because they blocked the seaplane’s ascent and descent. In fact, AMC paid the contractor Rs 3.50 lakh to remove the ropes.
The seaplane service was suspended after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it in October of last year because the plane needed to be returned to the Maldives for maintenance and repair. One year later, no one knows when the service will be resumed.
The service is run by GUJSAIL, and the city has no involvement in the project. The assignment of land for the airfield was decided by the standing committee. Aside from that, there were no specifics presented to the committee. The proposal was made twice, with the first being for a spot near Gandhi Bridge, which was later moved to the current one.
The seaplane is still being serviced in the Maldives. The AMC and the state government want to get the service up and running before the Next event in January 2022, but the company hasn’t said when it would be fixed. Less than 2,000 individuals have taken the plane journey, which was announced with great fanfare because it was the country’s first of its kind.
The river was then opened for boating, as well as Aqua Cycle, Zorbing Ball, Peddle Boat, and Jet Ski. Only a few of the functioning boats remain as the water level drops, and they will resume duty once the water level rises, according to a civic official who did not want to be identified.
AMC had grand ideas to build a “Amdavad Eye” similar to the London Eye, as well as parasailing and other water activities, but nothing has happened in years.
“BJP delights in pomp and show,” said Surendra Baxi, a former senior Congress councillor. Despite the fact that the site is owned by AMC, the corporation has no awareness of the services. The government is the one who initiates all of these programmes. It’s all a ruse to deceive voters ahead of the election. The ruling BJP has yet to provide even a basic boating service, although plans for a plane and helicopter ride have been floated.”