Kochi: The Kerala Government has given approval for developing an ‘Integrated Water Transportation System’ for Kochi, which will bring in revolutionary change in the transportation system of the city.
The initiative taken up by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) for developing a modern water transport system for the Greater Kochi region under Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA), include the introduction of modern water craft, renovation of boat-jetties, re-development of access roads with street lights and provision of connectivity between the boat-jetties and the bus & metro stations.
Now, the proposal will go to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) through Ministry of Urban Development and with the approval of DEA, it is expected to be considered in the next board of KfW, a German Government-owned development bank. The total cost of the project is Rs. 741 crore excluding Rs. 72 crore for land acquisition, in which KfW would give financial assistance to the extent of 85 million Euro, approximately Rs. 595 crore, as long-term soft loan. Rs. 102 crore would be contributed by the Kerala Government.
“We are delighted that this project prepared by KMRL has been finally approved by the Kerala Government. This is not merely a transportation project but also a livelihood improvement project for the people living on the islands and along Kochi’s backwaters.This is also the most liberal infrastructure project ever funded by an external agency in Kerala, with 80% of the project cost being funded by KfW, who are extremely keen on the project,” said KMRL Managing Director Elias George IAS.
The major part of the project is the procurement of modernised boats. Two variants of air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled glass reinforced plastic (GRP) catamaran passenger ferries with passenger capacity of 50 and 100 respectively are recommended in the DPR prepared by UMTC.
Apart from the ferry service development, the project also recommends developing existing and new access roads providing increased accessibility to the jetties and also enhanced mobility within the islands, infrastructure for ensuring safety and security to all its users by way of active and well-lit streets & CCTV cameras, promoting use of small occupancy feeder modes such as mini/midi feeder buses and electric rickshaws to access the jetties, promoting property development around the jetties, non-motorised transport infrastructure, facilities and infrastructure enabling smooth disabled-friendly mobility and public bicycle sharing schemes, including development of bicycle docking stations, at all the jetty locations.
The major jetties or the main boat hubs shall be developed as economic centres with commercial property development up to an extent of 1 acre. Wi-Fi-enabled social recreational opportunities will also be developed around the jetty locations. Tourism is also proposed to be promoted as part of the project. 16 out of 38 jetties will be developed in the first Phase.
The entire water transport project is proposed to be fully operationalised by 2019.