Boat services from Kovalam to Chakka proposed
Boat services from Kovalam to Chakka have been proposed in the first phase development of the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, which has got a Rs.300-crore world class terminal complex, into a multi-nodal transport hub.
The decision to launch the boat services was taken at a recent meeting of the high-level committee to implement the multi-nodal hub proposal mooted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in view of the terminal's proximity to the Parvathi Puthanar (inland waterway), the Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram railway line and the Kovalam-Inchivila NH 47 bypass.
The new complex is located 500 metres from the Parvathi Puthanar and the government has constructed a six-lane bridge and approach road to provide connectivity to the terminal. The project will be a collaboration between the airport management and the State government.
Outgoing airport director V.N. Chandran, the brain behind the project to explore the Parvathy Puthanar to promote intermodal travel in the contemporary airport management scenario, told The Hindu that launching the boat services on the 10-km stretch that will include the new airport terminal did not involve many hassles.
“The State can take the lead by de-silting the canal to make it navigable, strengthening the embankment and developing the bridges for the smooth passage of the boats,” he said.
In the second phase, the proposal is to begin boat services on the Chakka-Varkala-Kollam stretch of the inland waterway where there are several bottlenecks, including the Varkala tunnel.
Mr. Chandran said the construction of a boat terminal near the airport terminal that has come up facing the Parvathy Puthanar would improve the access of the people using the inland waterways to the airport. “In fact, people can walk across to the airport terminal once they arrive at the boat terminal that has been proposed near the edge of the car park,” he said.
The Inland Waterways Department had been asked to prepare a detailed report in this regard.
The proximity of the new airport terminal to Kovalam is also expected to augment tourist traffic. Operating boats along the Kovalam-Chakka stretch will enable the tourists to enjoy the beauty of the backwaters. The AAI is of the view that leading hotel groups in and around Kovalam will use inland water transport, which is cheap and non-polluting, to transport their guests to and from the airport.
The airport already has road and rail connectivity on the eastern side. The terminal is located 1 km from the Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam railway line. Extension of the rail line from Chakka will offer better rail connectivity to those arriving from across the State and adjoining Tamil Nadu. The 25-km rail link from Connaught Place to Delhi airport has been cited as an example. Mr. Chandran said Railways were of the view that laying a dedicated line from Kochuveli was also feasible.
The need to explore sea connectivity also came up at the meeting, attended by the Secretaries of Local Self-government and Water Resources departments and the Additional Secretary of the Public Works Department.
“If the sea connectivity is also to be provided, it will be the first airport in the world to have road, rail, inland waterway and sea connectivity,” Mr. Chandran said.