India’s first water taxi service was inaugurated in Maharashtra on Thursday which will connect the Navi Mumbai area to mainland Mumbai. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated the Belapur jetty while Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbanand Sonowal flagged off the water taxi.
The ₹8.37–crore project will presently run on three routes and the State and the Centre have each shared 50% of the expenditure. The three routes include Belapur to Ferry Wharf – the domestic cruise terminal, Belapur to Elephanta Caves and Belapur to JNPT.
In the initial stage, seven speedboats each with a capacity of 10 to 30 passengers and one catamaran with passenger capacity of around 50 to 60 will run on these routes. The cost per person on a single journey will be between ₹820 to ₹1,200 for speed boats and ₹290 for the catamaran.
Addressing the event, Mr. Sonowal said the Sagarmala project has offered 131 projects worth ₹1.05 lakh crore for Maharashtra. “Financial aid of ₹278 crore for 46 projects will be offered under the project,” he said.
The Navi Mumbai area is one of the fastest growing regions on the eastern seafront in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and the location of the jetty is close to the under-construction Navi Mumbai International Airport. The area is already connected to mainland Mumbai by road and local train network.
“India’s first train ran between Mumbai and Thane and it expanded throughout the country gradually. What happens in Mumbai spreads across the country. Now, we are again the first to launch a water taxi,” said Mr. Thackeray. He said the ease of transport is a key factor for investors to set up businesses in the region and the Maharashtra government is working towards making commuting hassle free for the citizens.
Mr. Sonowal said the Centre’s Sagarmala project is aimed at providing better facilities to the people in the coastal region. “This water taxi will reduce the travel time and similarly more jetties are being proposed. We will analyse the response of people to this service and further expansion of it will be planned,” he said.