Work on the Kollam-Kottappuram stretch of national waterways No 3 is on a fast pace and is expected to be commissioned by December 31 this year or latest by March 31,2013.
Asserting that development of waterways and easing of road traffic was on top of the UDF Government’s agenda, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly, while replying to a calling attention motion by K Kunhiraman (CPM)that the development of Kollam-Kottappuram waterways should have been completed long ago, but for land acquisition issues in many places. Regional issues have been sorted out in almost all places now in the stretch,which forms part of the Kovalam-Neeleswaram water course,measuring a total 540 km. “There are also some disputes with fishermen over the possible damage to their nets due to an increase in boat movements in certain stretches,” he said. The Chief Minister said that compared to the Kottapuram-Neeleswaram stretch, totalling 348 km,land acquisition problems are acute in the Kovalam-Kollam reach. “Varkala tunnel is also a major bottle neck in the development of Kovalam-Kollam course,” he said.
The CM pointed out that funds for the development of waterways in the state is not at all a problem since it is fully provided by the Centre.
The ‘dream project’ is very important to the state since freight movement will register a significant shift from roads to a cheaper mode,as there will be a minimum 40 per cent gain in tariff.
“The congestion in roads could be brought down to a great extent by making best use of the waterways,” he hoped and also said that adequate and cheap travel facilities through the courses will help the tourism sector in the state.
Recognising the importance of waterways, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 25 crore for the development ofKovalam-Neeleswaram waterways a couple of years back.K Kunhiraman criticised that the northern districts in the state were being neglected regarding the development of waterways.The state should apply more mind in developing the waterways across the state and link it with major and minor airports.