India’s first solar-powered cruise boat to be rolled out in December

A ₹3-cr. cruise boat that can carry 100 passengers is under construction at a boatyard in Aroor

June 21, 2019 12:16 am | Updated 09:15 am IST - KOCHI

Aditya, India’s first solar ferry. Special arrangement

Aditya, India’s first solar ferry. Special arrangement

Close on the heels of launching India’s first solar-powered ferry in 2016, Kerala is gearing up for the launch of the country’s premier solar-powered cruise boat by December.

The initiative comes from the State Water Transport Department (SWTD), whose solar ferry Aditya in the Vaikom-Thavanakadavu route has proved to be a success.

“The ₹3-crore cruise boat that can carry 100 passengers is under construction at a boatyard in Aroor and comes from the stable of the builders of Aditya. It will be rolled out in Alappuzha in December. The hybrid vessel will be powered by a motor that can source energy from solar panels, battery, and generator. Its battery will have 80 KWh (kilowatt hour) power backup, as compared to 50 KWh backup in Aditya,” says Shaji V. Nair, director of SWTD.

Low energy expense

Aditya incurs a rock-bottom energy expense of ₹200 a day, as compared to the approximately ₹8,000 needed for diesel-powered ferries.

Solar vessels do not create air and noise pollution. The double-deck, double-engine catamaran-type vessel adheres to norms specified by the Indian Registry of Shipping (IRS). The vessel will have an air-conditioned lower deck and pushback seats, he said.

The upper deck, which is non-air conditioned, can be used for dining and to get a better view of the backwaters. Apart from regular cruise, the vessel would be ideal to host parties and conferences.

“A similar cruise boat will be introduced in Ernakulam based on commuter response to the one in Alappuzha,” Mr. Nair said.

Considering the huge savings in energy expenses, the SWTD has also drawn up plans to introduce three sister vessels of Aditya by the end of the year. “A solar ferry would operate in the Panavalli-Perumbalam sector while two such ferries will operate from Vaikom (most likely to Ernakulam and back),” he added.

The SWTD is, in the meantime, readying to launch a sister vessel of its fast ferry Vega-120, which was launched in the Vaikom-Ernakulam-Fort Kochi route early this year.

The new ₹1.90-crore vessel will operate a trip each from Kottayam to Alappuzha and back during peak hours.

It will operate from Kumarakom to Alappuzha during the rest of the day, ferrying people between the two tourist destinations in 30 minutes. It takes about two hours to cover the distance by bus.

The department has also planned a water taxi service each in Ernakulam and Alappuzha. Each such vessel can carry 15 passengers, has a 400-horse power outboard engine, and can touch a speed of 26 km per hour. They will be available for tourists at an hourly rent, Mr. Nair said.

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