KOCHI (Metro Rail News): Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has inaugurated the first route and terminal buildings of Kochi Water Metro, a project to connect the islands around the city using state-of-the-art boats. The ₹747-crore Water Metro project of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) would emulate Kochi Metro as yet another innovative and sustainable mode of urban commuting in Kochi, providing an eco-friendly and accessible transportation mode, especially for people living in 10 islands off the mainland, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after inaugurating online the first route (Vyttila-Kakkanad) of the project on Monday.
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.
The twenty-three 100-passenger capacity, battery-powered, disabled friendly, AC ferries that will be introduced in the project’s first phase will boost the tourism prospects of the islands. There will be zero reliance on fossil fuels. Sixteen of the total 38 terminals will be completed in Phase One, of which the Vyttila and Kakkanad terminals are ready. The terminals will have floating pontoons, thus enabling safe entry and exit of ferries, irrespective of high or low tide. The ferries would thereafter be extended up to Infopark and Smart City, aimed mainly at IT professionals, the Chief Minister added.
The German development assistance agency KfW will provide a soft loan totalling ₹579 crore for the project, which is expected to lessen annual carbon emission in the Greater Kochi area by 16,500 tonnes. Electric autorickshaws and buses will operate feeder services to the ferries. Another batch of fifty-five 50-passenger capacity ferries will be launched in Phase Two of the project, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in Asia.
Kerala CM shared the pictures of the Kochi Water Metro project on Twitter and said, “The 520 km long first phase of the national waterways dedicated to the nation. The inauguration of the eco-friendly mode marks the beginning of a new chapter in infrastructure development. In these past 5 years, the State has made a quantum leap in mobility and transportation sectors.”
The timing of the inauguration seemed to be just right as Kerala is among the five states that will go to polls in April-May this year. The Election Commission is expected to notify the dates of the Assembly election next month.
Mr. Vijayan also inaugurated the Panamkutty bridge that connects Pettah and Thripunithura across the Poorna river, built by KMRL as part of widening the Pettah-S.N. Junction corridor into a four-lane road. “This is as part of the preparatory works of Kochi Metro’s Thripunithura extension. The 250-meter bridge was constructed at a cost of ₹17.2 crore in 15 months, as against the 22-month deadline. This shows the professionalism of the metro agency. The old, 50-year-old bridge was narrow and did not have a footpath,” he said.
In his address, Walter J. Lindner, German Ambassador to India, who was special guest on the occasion, said the first ferry of Water Metro was expected to begin service in another five weeks. “KfW’s is a soft loan for the project. Germans love to visit Kerala since its Ayurveda is very popular. The State’s eco-friendly nature begins as one lands at Cochin International Airport, the sole fully-solar-powered airport in the entire planet,” he said.
In his address, Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta said Kerala’s waterways held massive untapped potential to ferry passengers and cargo. “The Water Metro ferries would have a common command and control centre [near its Vyttila terminal],” he said.
The Kerala CM also opened the Panamkutty Bridge, also known as Petta Bridge, for traffic and launched the Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System (IURWT) project. The opening of the bridge will enable a hassle-free journey between Petta junction and SN junction. The total length of the bridge is 250 metre, of which around 70 metre is over the Poorna river. It was constructed as a part of Kochi Metro’s preparatory works for the phase one extension from Petta to Thrippunithura. IURWT project has been envisioned to renew and rejuvenate six major canals of 34 km in Kochi.
Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty presided over the function, while Kochi Mayor M. Anilkumar and KMRL Managing Director Alkesh Kumar Sharma were among those who spoke.