Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday inaugurated the first route and terminal buildings of the ambitious Kochi Water Metro project, a Rs 747-crore plan to connect the islands around the city using state-of-the-art boats.
The route from Vyttila, one of the busiest traffic hubs in the city, to Kakkanad, the IT hub, was inaugurated by the Chief Minister through video-conferencing from Thiruvananthapuram.
Commercial operations are likely to start next month after obtaining the statutory clearance certificate.
The timing of the inauguration seemed to be ideal as the state government might have wanted to hold the programme before March, when the Election Commission is expected to notify the dates of the Assembly election which will bring the model code of conduct into effect.
According to the proposal, the Water Metro project, which is funded partly by the state government and the German financing agency KfW, will have a total of 16 routes, connecting 38 terminals using 78 AC and non-AC boats. The first phase of the project, which is currently underway, will have 16 terminals with boats with carrying capacities of 50 and 100 people being put to use. The first of the ferries to be used on the Vyttila-Kakkanad route is nearing completion.
“Our rivers, canals and backwaters must be made fit for passenger and cargo transport. The outlook of the Water Metro project is maintaining steady development through environmental sustainability. This will be a green transport model for safe and comfortable journeys. There will be air-conditioned boats. The terminals and boats will also be disabled-friendly, which is a first in the country,” Vijayan said.
He added, “The boats will be operated completely through electricity. So, there will be no environmental impact due to usage of fossil fuels. In the first phase, 10 islands near Kochi will be connected. It’s a big step in tourist development. It will improve lives of the islanders and create job opportunities for them.”
The CM also inaugurated the beginning of the work on the Rs 1,528-crore Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System project to restore inland canals for water transport, tourism and recreational purposes. Under this project, a network of six canals, including the Edappally canal, Chilavanoor canal and the Thevara Perandoor canal, spread over 34.75 kms and coursing through the city, will be restored and made navigable.
The Panamkutty Bridge connecting Petta with Thripunithura over the Poorna river was also dedicated to the state by the CM. “It’s a 250-metre-long bridge built at a cost of Rs 17.20 crore. It will solve the problem of traffic congestion at Petta,” he said.