The cool green backwaters of Kerala fringed with swaying palm trees has always radiated tranquility, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. But for those who live and commute daily through the region, the story isn’t wholly one of calm and peace, especially for people living within the cluster of islands in the Kochi region and the city. With the aim of providing easy connectivity for people living in these regions, the Kerala government recently announced a first of its kind project in India, a Water Metro transportation system that’s now set to come up in the next four years.
As stated in a report by The New Indian Express, the project was launched by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Kochi and is being financed after a tri-party agreement between the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), a German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Kerala government. The agreement was drawn out and signed on Friday for a 85 million Euro loan for the Water Metro Project. “The integrated water transport project Water Metro, which will be launched on Saturday, is going to be a lot more beneficial to the people of Kochi than the Metro Rail, because it seeks to transform the lives of financially backward people living in the islands and the Vembanad lagoon by giving them access to the economic opportunities available in the city,” stated KMRL Managing Director Elias George. Further adding, “The Water Metro project is not just about launching boats in water, but is also about building roads in the islands and plying electric buses on those roads. There is even a ‘lighting component’ in the project, to ensure that people will be able to go home and work for longer hours without security concerns. The project will also focus on creating a system that gives the public an option to leave behind their private vehicles and use public transportation, once the integrated transport model is in place. Altogether, the KMRL expects to have the boats in the water by 2018, and complete the entire project in the next four years.”
As stated by Ashraf Padanna for Gulf Today, “It [Water Metro Project] envisages the development of 16 identified routes, connecting 38 docks across ten islands and spans a total route network of 76 km to be implemented in two phases and fully operational in four years. It intends to have a fleet of 78 fast, fuel efficient, air-conditioned ferries plying to 38 jetties, 18 of which will be developed as hubs while the remaining 20 will be minor piers for transit services.”
As per reports, the agreement was signed on July 22, while KfW will be providing a “long-term soft loan” of Rs. 597 crore for the project that costs a whopping total of Rs. 747 crore, not including Rs. 72 crore required for land acquisition. The Indo-German Bilateral Cooperation is backing the project financially under the ‘Climate Friendly Urban Mobility Plan.’ The project includes not only modernised boats for commuting but the improvement of roads, renovating the jetties and bettering the pre-existing infrastructure and facilities. “This is a milestone in Kochi’s development,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Gulf Today who also quote Martin Ney, German ambassador to India, stating, “We intend to start our journey towards a smart city through sustainable, environment-friendly urban mobility.”
Feature image courtesy of India Today