E-boats: new attraction of the Holy city

The next time you visit Varanasi, remember to reserve some time for a boat ride in the river Ganga on newly launched e-boats.

Comfortable, silent and eco-friendly battery-powered boats have become a new buzz among the tourists visiting the Holy city nowadays. E-boats are free from the noise and flutter of diesel engines and, thus, provide comfortable boat rides to visitors along the vast stretch of the river Ganga.

E-boats are a part of the ambitious project by the Government of India aimed to reduce polluting emissions from the motorboats in the river body. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed 11 e-boats among the boatmen at famous Assi ghat on May 1, 2016. Since then, the first-of-its-kind boats have become the center of attraction for the city’s tourists, especially overseas guests.

“Boat riding is one of the major attractions of Varanasi. From domestic to foreign tourists, contemplating the serenity of ghats from boats is one of the important things to do in the city. As ores of boats were replaced by diesel engines, the boat rides started contributing to the river pollution. To resolve the issue, the Government launched e-boats in the river,” said Murat Sahni, a boatman at Assi ghat.

Besides reducing pollution, the boats have added to the visitors coming to Assi ghat. “Our PM himself came to launch the e-boat project. He also took the first ride in the boat, his gesture built trust in people in these next generation boats and brought extreme popularity to it. In two weeks, many tourists have come to us to take a ride in e-boats only,” said Virendra Nishad, a boatman on whose e-boat, PM Modi took the first ride on its launch.
Sharing his experience with the team of VolGanga, a tourist from Ukraine said, “Just before my trip to India, I read about these e-boats in the river Ganga. It is quiet and comfortable. We enjoyed our boat ride a lot.”

Meanwhile, amid seeking popularity, the e-boats have brought troubles to the boatmen who are now facing problems in getting their cumbersome batteries recharged. To do so they have to carry a set of six batteries totally weighing around 180 kg up the stairs of the ghat. From there, the batteries are taken to power points where they are recharged and then brought back to boatmen.

E-boats anchored in the river Ganga

Raj Nishad, another beneficiary of the battery powered boats said:

“We were told that the boats would run on solar power but there was no facility available for this. If the Government installs solar panels over the boats, the sunlight will help recharge the batteries. Then there will be no need to carry these heavy batteries for recharge.”