KOCHI: Water Metro project which was officially launched the other day is considered a landmark in the urban infrastructure development history of Kochi agglomeration. It is for the first time that such a project is being implemented in India. Similar to world class cities like Hong Kong and Istanbul, which are well connected with water transport network, the islanders living in areas near the Vemaband lake will get easy access to the main land and heart of the city once this project becomes complete. Once the project became a reality, 78 modernised boats will begin plying through the backwaters of Kochi.
The Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who officially inaugurated the project on Saturday, was hopeful of completing the project within four years. The project is being implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) with the financial assistance of KfW, the German Development Bank.
"Once the Water Metro project becomes a reality, travel through the backwaters will become more advanced and safer than ever," said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
He said that sustainable tourism development which will give commercial opportunities to more people is necessary for all the overall development of Kerala.
"Through Water Metro, Kochi will get an opportunity to establish its credentials as a Port City in the global map. The government will keenly observe the progress of the project to make sure that is will be completed in a time bound manner," he added.
The major part of the project is procurement of modernised boats. Two variants of air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled catamaran passenger ferries- with capacity of 50 and 100 respectively are envisaged. The boats will operate at an optimal speed of 8 knots, with the potential to increase up to 12 knots, once the dedicated water transit corridor is established.
Apart from the development of the ferry service, the project also proposes development of the existing and new access roads providing increased accessibility to the jetties and enhanced mobility within the islands, infrastructure for ensuring safety and security to all its users by way of active and well-lit streets and CCTV cameras, promoting use of small occupancy feeder modes such as mini feeder buses and electric rickshaws to access the jetties, promoting property development around the jetties and place making, non-motorised transport infrastructure, facilities and infrastructure enabling smooth disabled-friendly mobility, and public bicycle sharing schemes including development of bicycle docking stations at all the jetty locations.
The major jetties or the main boat hubs shall be developed with Wi-Fi enabled social recreational opportunities. Tourism is also proposed to be promoted as part of the project. 16 out of 38 jetties will be developed in the first Phase. The Intelligent Navigation System and Operation Control Centre are proposed to be integrated with the city's intelligent transportation system. Automatic Fare Collection system being implemented by Kochi Metro will be extended to water transport system.