Toy train to chug in Nandankanan again

Facility has been lying idle since August when govt called off deal with private firm

By LELIN KUMAR MALLICK in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 1.04.15
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File picture of the toy train in Nandankanan.

Bhubaneswar, March 31: The state forest and environment department is all set to revive the toy train service in the Nandankanan zoo.

The train has been gathering dust since August last year when the government cancelled the agreement with its private operator Citicon Service Pvt Ltd.

Replying to a question on the issue in the Assembly today, forest and environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukh said the department had already floated a tender and had received only one application.

"The price quoted in the application was far below the upset price. The matter is under consideration of the state government," said Arukh.

The service was introduced in 1985 on a 1.6km track. The train has a capacity to carry 60 people on a 20-minute ride. Though the zoo was managing the service till 2008, it roped in a private agency by inviting a tender the same year.

The zoo had also renovated the platform and the train in 2008. Zoo officials said the toy train had been attracting around 1.5 lakh tourists every year. A ride in the toy train used to cost Rs 10.

The minister also told the House that the government was considering the proposal of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) to manage the ropeway service in the zoo.

"We have received a proposal from the OTDC to run the service and it is under consideration," said Arukh.

The zoo had signed an agreement with Calcutta-based Ropeway and Resorts Pvt Ltd to manage the ropeway for a period of 30 years. However, technical glitches started to show up in the car after the private firm failed to maintain it properly. So, keeping an eye on the safety of the visitors, we had decided to stop the service," said the minister.

The 620-metre ropeway used to attract around 13,000 visitors every year with the private operator charging Rs 30 per person. The ropeway over the Kanjia Lake began operations in 1994.

Bhubaneswar-North MLA Priyadarshi Mishra suggested that the state government set up a market complex with adequate parking lots and hotel facilities around the zoo.

"The zoo is an important tourist destination. However, lack of adequate parking space for buses and hotels has been a problem for the visitors," said Mishra. In reply, Arukh said the state government would consider the proposal.