Revellers and tourists visiting the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir could enjoy a toy train service soon, as the state government is planning a feasibility study to launch one.
The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) is going to conduct a field survey and feasibility study and prepare a detailed project report for launching the service. The proposed toy train would ply a distance of 6.5km between the lower station of the aerial ropeway at Ratnagiri Hills and the Ghorakatora Lake.
“At present, people travel between Ratnagiri Hills (on top of which is the Vishwa Shanti Stupa) and the Ghorakatora lake mostly in horse-driven tongas. In order to provide a similar eco-friendly mode of transportation with an element of amusement, we have proposed to start a toy train service. We have invited bids to conduct a feasibility study and prepare the detailed project report for the toy train service. The commissioning of the project would, however, depend on necessary clearance from the forest department and other agencies concerned,” said Shailendra Kumar, general manager, BSTDC.
Sources said the feasibility study would include identifying alternative alignments of the track for the toy train, fixing intermediate stations and signal system, conducting a field survey along with selected alignment and electrical installations. Care would have to taken that the least amount of trees are felled for the service.
The project is likely to be state-funded and would cost around Rs 3 crore per kilometre according to preliminary estimates. It would take at least five years for the project to take shape though.
“The detailed project report will be prepared within three months from the date the work order is issued to the selected firm. The detailed project report would be followed by an environmental impact assessment study. It is expected to take another six months. The commissioning of the proposed toy train service would depend on forest clearance, wildlife clearance and environmental clearance. We expect it to take around two years to get all the necessary clearance,” said a senior BSTDC officer.
The Ghorakatora lake, in the Pant Wildlife Sanctuary, is around 120km southeast of Patna. It is surrounded by hills, forest and vegetation, identified as forest area, where around 150 species of plants are found. Being an eco-tourism spot, tourist services, including six tum-tums (carriages) and eco-huts made of bamboo, are available around the lake.
The BSTDC officer added that once the environmental clearances for the toy train service are obtained, the installation would take around two-and-a-half years to three years to complete.
Once the toy train at the tourist spot is ready, it would be the second such service in the state after Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in Patna. It was inaugurated on October 2, 2004 by then railway minister Lalu Prasad. At the Patna zoo, the toy train has four coaches. The track length is 4,368m and the train passes along animal enclosures, the two lakes on the premises, botanical zone among other areas.
Apart from the proposed toy train in Rajgir, BSTDC is working on a plan to install a 70-foot stone statue of Lord Buddha in Bhumi Sparsh posture at the Ghorakatora lake. “Renowned sculptor Ram Sutar, who is known for his Gandhi statues, has shown interest in making the statue of Lord Buddha,” said the BSTDC officer.