Kochi: Waterways are the only solution to the city's growing traffic issues, officials feel. The district administration's efforts to operate a boat service from Kochi to Nedumbassery could be the beginning of an ambitious project to make use of the city's own canals and backwaters.
Kochi is the only city in the country which is connected with three national waterways and 14 state waterways.
Already, there are boats and ferry services operating to various parts of the city. There are more than 30 services, including boats, junkars, canoes and speed boats that operate every day from the 50 jetties across Kochi. Out of the total 16 local bodies which come under the Kochi Corporation, as many as 12 are connected with ferry services.
The Kochi Corporation has already mooted the project for an Special Project Vehicle to operating motor boats.
"Augmentation of the existing waterways within our limits should be carried out on a priority basis. That is why the corporation has decided to go for an Special Project Vehicle. For this, we need to bring in some amendments to the existing bylaw. We have initiated the proceedings for this," said former Mayor K J Sohan, who is currently the Town Planning Standing Committee chairman.
Operating waterways is comparatively more cheap and environmental-friendly, he said.
"If you travel from Fort Kochi to Ernakulam by bus it would take about 45 minutes or more and a bus fare of Rs 11 whereas travelling by boat would take a maximum of 15 minutes and will cost only around Rs 2.50. So even if the boat fare is increased to Rs 5, passengers will prefer this mode of transport," Sohan said.
However, modernisation of the existing boat services and waterways is essential. It should be more frequent, regular and modern. Only then will a large number of vehicles from Fort Kochi, Mattanchery and Vypeen region to Ernakulam will be off from the roads. There are already boat jetties and ferry services at Vypeen region and Thevara.
Sohan added that the augmentation of existing waterways and developing them would be cheaper compared to the existing road and rail projects. "Augmentation of waterways will cost only around Rs 150 crore. It won't affect Kochi's green cover," he said.
The Special Project Vehicle project of the Kochi Corporation will be implemented on the Cochin International Airport model. There will be 'point -to-point' boat services which can cater to the needs of daily passengers. Instead of Kochi Metro, we should implement the water metro project, said Admiral B R Menon, former chairman of Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation.
Story first published:
December 15, 2011 15:39 IST