THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For years, they acted as a gateway of sorts to Thiruvananthapuram. But today, as the state dreams of extending the West Coast Canal down to Kovalam, the historic, but narrow Varkala tunnels (Varkala Thurappu) are proving to be no more than bottlenecks.
Experts from the Konkan Railway have inspected the tunnels as part of the government’s efforts to widen them and make them a part of the waterway connecting the two ends of the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday.
Of the two tunnels, one is 722m in length, while the other is 350m. The first tunnel was built in 1877 and the second one, in 1880. In October last year, the state government had sought the expertise of Metroman E Sreedharan to find a solution to the bottlenecks.
There is also an alternate proposal to create a by-pass for the waterway rather than demolishing and widening the historic tunnels. Attempts to solve the Varkala Thurappu riddle are not new. Earnest efforts to widen the tunnels began almost a decade ago. In 2007, then Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had inspected the tunnel, taking a trip down the main one by boat. However, the project got delayed indefinitely.