Kerala

306-km waterway to be made navigable from next month

Path in progress: Silt being removed from the Chala area of the Vallakadavu-Kollam waterway.  

Inland water transport, a fuel-efficient and eco-friendly mode of transportation, will be enabled in 306 km in the State from next month with the commissioning of the 68-km Vallakadavu-Kollam stretch in the south and the 70-km Kottapuram-Chavakkad stretch in the north.

Already, the 16-km Kollam-Kottapuram stretch of the 633-km West Coast Canal, the main arterial waterway traversing through 11 districts, developed as National Waterway III with Class III norms is navigable. The corridor from Kollam to Kottapuram can facilitate the movement of 350 to 500 tonnes cargo vessels.

Final works on

Final works are on the Vallakadavu-Kollam and Kottapuram-Chavakkad corridors to open the rejuvenated waterway as announced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Earlier, it was decided to open the Akkulam-Kollam stretch in two phases and it has now been extended further south up to Vallakadavu.

The stretch from Akkulam to Kollam will have a width of 10-15 m, depth of 1.2-1.5 m and will enable the movement of the 24-seater indigenously manufactured solar boat procured by the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) and currently undergoing trial-runs in Kochi. The solar boat can cruise with ease with a depth of one metre.

Finishing works are on by the Kerala Waterways and Infrastructure Ltd. (KWIL), the special purpose vehicle created by the government for the rejuvenation of the inland waterways, and the Inland Navigation Department. Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Vigilance, Coastal Shipping and Inland Navigation T.K. Jose and District Collector, Thiruvananthapuram, Navjot Khosa are closely monitoring the works.

Already, the 722-metre Sivagiri tunnel completed in 1880 and the 350-metre Chilakoor tunnel, the major challenges in the Akkulam-Kollam stretch, have been made navigable.

Rehabilitation

Boats can move along the Sivagiri and Chilakoor tunnels as they have a diameter of 4.7 metre. Rehabilitation of 16 families between the Varkala bridge and the Chilakoor tunnel and clearance of the waterway near the Sivagiri tunnel are progressing. The government has already approved rehabilitation of 60 families residing in the fringes of the T.S. Canal at Varkala through the Punargeham project of the Fisheries Department.

Beyond Chavakkad

Beyond Chavakkad, six low-level bridges and the Kuttai regulator in the Ponnani-Kozhikode corridor of the waterway are the hurdles. The Mannittampara and Veliyamcode locks are to be replaced by the Inland Waterways Authority of India. In Kuttai, navigation locks are needed at least in one span for the hassle-free movement of the vessels.

Works on the Kozhikode-Vadakara, Vadakara-Mahe and 26-km Mahi-Valapattanam are the other challenges. In the Mahi-Valapattanam stretch, creation of three artificial canals and creation of a new 6-km canal from Vallapattanam to Bekal are necessary.

Official sources said the priority was to make the waterway from north to south navigable by 2022 and then attain the NW III standards of 32 m bottom width, 40 m top width and depth of 2.2 m by 2025.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 9:39:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/306-km-waterway-to-be-made-navigable-from-next-month/article33493787.ece

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