The Union Shipping Ministry has agreed in principle to extend National Waterway no. 3 from Kottappuram to Neeleswaram at one end and from Kollam to Kovalam at the other, Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph said here on Thursday.

Inaugurating a user departments' interaction meeting organised by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC), the Minister said the Union Ministry had sanctioned Rs.30 lakh for carrying out a feasibility study for the extension. The report of the study, to be done by NATPAC, should be submitted within six months.

The Minister urged the NATPAC officials to submit practical proposals, taking into account the ground realities and social, economic and environmental aspirations of the local people who would be affected or benefited by the development of the waterways.

C.P. John, Member, State Planning Board, highlighted the need for having dedicated walkways for free pedestrian movement from major terminal centres, such as the Central Railway Station, East Fort, and the Government Medical College junction in the State capital.

“If a small upward or downward gradient can be maintained on these elevated walkways, people can cycle along them without much effort and make transportation fun,” he said.

K.R. Jyothilal, Secretary, Transport, emphasised the need for introducing an automatic railway signalling system so that mainline electric multiple units could be operated at intervals of five to 10 minutes on busy routes in the State. He stressed the need for integration of various transport modes to solve the transportation problems in the State.

State Transport Commissioner T.P. Senkumar said cameras were being installed at selected locations on road stretches and junctions where accidents were frequent to detect those guilty of traffic rule violations. The Kerala Road Safety Authority had spent Rs.54 crore on various road safety projects.

At the function, Mr. Joseph released a news letter, a diary, and a road safety calendar brought by NATPAC by handing over copies to Mr. Senkumar, the former Railway Board Chairman M.N. Prasad, and Inspector-General of Police, Traffic, S. Gopinath.

G.C. Gopala Pillai, Chairman, Public Sector Restructuring and Internal Audit Board (RIAB); N.P. Kurian, Director, Centre for Earth Science Studies; B.G. Sreedevi, Director, NATPAC; Mahesh Chand, Scientist-G, NATPAC; and G. Ravikumar, Head, Extension Project Development Division; spoke.

Technical presentations on urban transport, road safety, rural transport, water transport, highway engineering, and extension and training activities were made by the respective division heads of NATPAC. This was followed by an interaction of NATPAC scientists with senior officials of the departments of Transport, Public Works, Town Planning, Police, Local Self-Government, and other user departments, and the Rubber Board. Eighty-four officials from the user departments participated.

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