The Alappuzha Cargo Terminal project of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) coming up at Punnamada finishing point is threatening the existence of the houseboat industry, the backbone of the tourism sector here.
The terminal, which is a part of the 205 km National Waterway-3, is expected to be completed by this year.
“The arrival of four large buses to Punnamada finishing point from the Court Bridge road is holding up the traffic for nearly an hour now, not to speak of a large number of container trucks. This will also hit the houseboat industry hard,” Jomon Konnakappally, general secretary of the Kerala Houseboat Owners Association, said. The work for deepening the waterway, which is currently underway, is facing stiff opposition from the public, especially fishermen who will lose their fishing nets cast on the lake. There is a dispute over the compensation to be paid to the fishermen in this regard. Demand for the relocation of the terminal had been sought by former MP K.S.Manoj, saying it would also affect the conduct of the famous Nehru Trophy boat race.
Government eyes profit
However, the government seems to be concerned only about the fortunes the project may bring after its completion. It is expected that once completed, the cargo movement along the water way would be 7.17 million tones by 2020. The government had earlier offered land at Punnamada finishing point and Pallathuruthy for the terminal project.
The terminal will act as the loading and unloading point for cargos from Kollam and Kottayam.
The cargo, which could be transported to Punnamada by road or through water from the terminals of Kayamkulam or Thaneermukkom, might ease the road traffic towards Ernakulam. The terminal, which is coming up in 2.5 acres of land in Punnamada finishing point, is one of the nine terminals coming up under the National Waterway-3 project at Kottappuram, Aluva, Maradu, Vaikom, Thaneermukkom, Thrikkunnappuzha, Kayamkulam and Kollam.