Linking Mangalureans to their rivers

Mangaluru Smart City Ltd. has developed a comprehensive plan to develop the waterfront around Mangaluru not only for the benefit of the residents, but also as a tourism destination

Updated - February 08, 2024 04:23 pm IST

Published - October 20, 2023 07:00 am IST - MANGALURU

Work is underway for the walkway near Mulihithlu as a part of the proposed Netravathi Riverfront Promenade from the Netravathi Bridge on NH 66 to the Bolar Sea Face in Mangaluru.

Work is underway for the walkway near Mulihithlu as a part of the proposed Netravathi Riverfront Promenade from the Netravathi Bridge on NH 66 to the Bolar Sea Face in Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: MANJUNATH H.S.

Though Mangaluru is endowed with not one, but two rivers — Netravathi and Phalguni (Gurupura) — many Mangalureans themselves do not visit their banks often. At the same time, residents frequently complain about the lack of socialising places in the city, with the beaches for which Mangaluru is famous being slightly away.

The primary reason for people remaining aloof from the rivers has been the lack of access to riverfronts — no proper connecting roads, no ghats and so on. The ferry service that could have connected these rivers with people, too has vanished with the construction of bridges for vehicular movement.

Mangaluru, compared to other similarly situated regions in coastal Karnataka, has not been able to attract tourists either by showcasing its rich waterfronts for lack of any development.

Work in progress for the Netravathi Riverfront Promenade near Mahakalipadpu to the south of the Mangaluru-Shoranur Railway bridge, in Mangaluru.

Work in progress for the Netravathi Riverfront Promenade near Mahakalipadpu to the south of the Mangaluru-Shoranur Railway bridge, in Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

Neighbours do better

In contrast, neighbouring Udupi has leapfrogged in tourism infrastructure development, particularly on the waterfronts, by developing Malpe, Kaup, Kundapura-Kodi and Byndoor beaches. Many boathouses, too, have been operating in the river backwaters, whereas Mangaluru has none. Honnavar in Uttara Kannada has a beautiful Mangrove Walk in the backwaters of Sharavathi, besides the developed Kasarakod beach. Karwar has exploited the Kali River to the maximum for tourism purposes.

Though successive district administrations of Dakshina Kannada had attempted to exploit the waterfronts around Mangaluru, they did not materialise. With Mangaluru getting selected for the Smart City Project, plans were revived, and new ideas were added for the optimum utilisation of the waterfronts.

The Bolar Sea Face, where the Netravathi Riverfront Promenade Pilot project ends, in South Mangaluru.

The Bolar Sea Face, where the Netravathi Riverfront Promenade Pilot project ends, in South Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

No welcoming sight

The present scenario of the riverbanks abutting the city is no welcoming sight, with a majority of the land belonging to the Ports Department that has leased them out to ancillary activities, including boat building and repair yards, fishnet repair yards, tile factories, etc. An ordinary person does not venture to riverfronts other than for angling.

The Mangaluru Smart City Ltd. (MSCL), therefore, has developed a comprehensive plan to develop the waterfront around Mangaluru not only for the benefit of the residents but also to offer it to visitors. The development would also serve other purposes — to prevent riverbed encroachment, illegal activities, etc. The presence of people, too, would deter such unauthorised activities, according to MSCL’s General Manager Arunprabha.

The waterfront development broadly covers seven areas: Netravathi Promenade (₹70 crore), construction of above-grade pathway/walkway between Sultan Battery and Tannirbhavi Beach across Phalguni and Tannirbhavi Beach development (₹50 crore), area development of Sultan Battery (₹15.22 crore), open-air theatre and water sports park at Nair Kudru (river island ₹40 cr) and construction of seven passenger jetties along Netravathi and Phalguni banks.

The Phalguni (right) joins the Netravathi (left) before ending up in the Arabian Sea at the Netravathi estuary in south Mangaluru.

The Phalguni (right) joins the Netravathi (left) before ending up in the Arabian Sea at the Netravathi estuary in south Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

Promenade and waterfront

Mr. Arunprabha said the promenade is to re-engage the citizens of Mangaluru with varied water-related experiences and to connect the city with the river and the sea through landmarks and nodes. The 2.2 km promenade from Netravathi Bridge of NH 66 at Jeppinamogaru to Bolara Sea Face would have a 6’ wide walkway and 3’ wife bicycle track.

The walkway and bicycle tract between the road bridge and the railway bridge would be done in the form of a wooden bridge as the area is filled with Mangroves. Walking and cycling on the bridge would introduce people to different varieties of Mangroves, he noted.

To give easy access to people to reach the promenade, about 5-6 small roads towards Netravathi would be widened to 6 metres, Mr. Arunprabha said. Along the promenade, there would be several attractions, including a biodiversity park. Plans are on to route the walkway above the boat yards to introduce people to the boat building and repair activities.

Of the 2.2 km promenade, land for a 1.7 km stretch is readily available, while the remaining is with some leaseholders of port land, Mr. Arunprabha said. Dialogues are on with the leaseholders to get that land so that the remaining portions of their property would get added value. MSCL is also prepared to guide them to establish activities permissible under Coastal Regulation Zone that attract people, he said.

Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel recently asked the MSCL to go ahead with the waterfront development project on the available land as the company has got CRZ clearance for the project.

The proposal to construct at least seven jetties in the two rivers is meant to encourage the transportation of people and goods by water, Mr. Arunprabha said. Right from Adyar off NH 75 in Netravathi River, MSCL, along with the Port Department, is identifying suitable locations till Maravoor in Phalguni River, off Airport Road, to construct jetties. Besides facilitating transportation, the jetties would also encourage starting houseboat operations, he noted.

The Waterfront Development Project involves the development of the Sultan Battery Area and the construction of a suspension footbridge connecting Tannirbhavi and other facilities at Sultan Battery in Mangaluru.

The Waterfront Development Project involves the development of the Sultan Battery Area and the construction of a suspension footbridge connecting Tannirbhavi and other facilities at Sultan Battery in Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: MANJUNATH H.S.

Sultan Battery

Being one of the major landmarks of Mangaluru, Sultan Battery built by Tipu Sultan on the banks of Phalguni in Boloor village, has not seen any development over the years. Sultan Battery is also the connecting point to Tannirbhavi Beach through the Ferry service.

Smart City Ltd. has planned a comprehensive development of the Sultan Battery area, including the construction of a hanging bridge connecting the Tannirbhavi stretch. The 260-metre long and 3-metre wide hanging bridge would also have viewing decks, pavillion, small kiosks, etc., as added attractions.

The development of Sultan Battery, which also has a fishing jetty, includes a waterfront promenade, native species garden, stepped pavilion plaza for Mangalore Haat, amphitheatre and viewing arena, Maidan, walkways and a maritime history feature wall.

MSCL has already commenced the work on the Tannirbhavi Beach development at an estimated cost of ₹7 crore. The area would have a promenade pavilion/sea link landing site, shaded walkway, ferry point, clock tower, parking lot, toilet block, eat street, Mangalore Frame and beach front.

These initiatives, Mr. Arunprabha said, should be able to bring people closer to water bodies, thereby ensuring their preservation. People would also get socialising spaces around the city while tourists could get a better glimpse of the coastal city of Mangaluru.

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