Kolkata, Sep 30 (PTI) The lockdown has forced the Kolkata Port Trust, rechristened as the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, to defer its plan to bring back the heritage paddle steamer on the Hooghly river by this winter, an official said on Wednesday.
The 'Paddle Steamer Bhopal', built in 1944, is being renovated at Rs 3 crore and was supposed to be ready by October, he said, adding that the work could not be completed as per schedule due to the COVID-19 crisis, he said.
The renovation work of the 62.6 metre-long vessel is expected to be over by January-February next year, the senior port official said.
'Lockdown has forced us to defer the plan. We will run our heritage cruise with the paddle ship once the vessel is ready. The renovation of it would cost around Rs 3 crore,' Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port chairman Vinit Kumar said.
'PS Bhopal' was part of a flotilla of steamers that sailed the Hooghly river before being replaced by diesel- driven engine vessels. The ship has two large paddles on either side driven by steam engines.
'The renovation is being done by a private operator.
According to the terms of reference, the operator will run the vessel for 10 years and pay an annual royalty of Rs 50,000.
However, the port can use the ship for 3-4 days a month for its purpose,' Kumar told PTI.
The design of the renovated vessel was approved by the port and some features, including the paddle and old machines, would be intact, he said, adding that a small museum would be there for people to know how an old and mechanised ship used to sail.
This will be something new for heritage enthusiasts but steam boilers and engines will no longer be used. There will be diesel engines to propel the vessel, he said.
The paddle steamer was used as a training ship by the port before being left abandoned in Kidderpore dock till recently. PTI BSM BDC BDC