Varanasi: The temple town will soon see the operation of cruise service in Ganga. The state tourism department is set to introduce a 40-seater cruise in the first phase of the project this year.

Regional tourism officer Ravindra Mishra said on Thursday that Kashi is known as the cultural capital of the country and tourists visit the city to enjoy the scenic boat ride in Ganga while savouring the iconic riverfront. To make the experience even more special, the tourism department will start a special cruise service between Assi ghat and Rajghat soon.

Prior to the operation of cruise, the department officials have sought clearance of forest department as a tortoise sanctuary exists in the stretch of the river from Rajghat to Ramnagar. “We are awaiting a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the forest department. The DFO Ramnagar has forwarded the proposal to the principal secretary and higher authorities at Lucknow forest department for clearance and we are hoping to get the nod soon,” Mishra said.

This 7-km stretch of Ganga was declared tortoise sanctuary on December 21, 1989 under the Ganga Action Plan launched in 1986. It is looked after by the Kashi Wildlife Division, Ramnagar.

According to Mishra, under this project of Rs 20-22 crore proposed in 2017-18, two units of 40-seater cruise will be operated. The first unit is expected to operate from Assi to Rajghat this year. Besides this, a laser show will also be put in to place to enrich the experience of tourists.