THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has written to Union Minister for Water Resources and River Development Uma Bharati seeking inclusion of four more river/canal stretches in the state in the National Waterways project.
The state also asked the Centre to extend the West Coast canal by making it a part of National Waterway-III. In his letter, Chandy said 11 rivers/canals out of the proposed 101 waterways are from Kerala. “Four very important feeder routes of NW-III -- Alappuzha-Changanassery canal, Alappuzha-Kottayam canal, Kottayam-Vaikom canal and Athirampuzha canal -- have not been included in the proposal,” Chandy informed the Union Minister.
The Chief Minister also forwarded a note prepared by the director of National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac) on inclusion of these canals and extension of NW-3 in the proposed list.
In its report, Natpac listed the advantages of developing these waterways. While the objective is to improve facilities for passenger transport and cargo distribution, the move would also be of interest to private players. “If the channels are widened and deepened it will allow operation of sufficiently large vessels. This will make it attractive for commercial traffic,” the report said.
The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is providing connectivity to Kuttanad with around 50 boat services daily, primarily in Alappuzha-Changanassery canal.
“As the West Coast Canal is being developed for movement of bulk carriages, the necessity to develop feeder canal system and navigable stretches of rivers from isolated areas to the main artery of water routes has become imperative. Since road connectivity between Alappuzha and Kottayam across Vembanad lake is only possible through the circuitous route over Thanneermukkom barrage-cum-road bridge, daily commuters prefer water transport,” the report observed.
■ The state has sought inclusion of four more river/canal stretches in the Nat’l Waterways projects
■ In his letter, the CM said four very important feeder routes of NW-III -- Alappuzha-
Changanassery canal, Alappuzha-Kottayam canal, Kottayam-Vaikom canal and Athirampuzha canal -- were not included in the proposal
■ The state also asked the Centre to extend the West Coast canal by making it a part of National Waterway-III
Another possibility is that of extending the West Coast canal up to Kasaragod in the north and Kolachal in the south. “A portion of 11 km-long AVM canal in Tamil Nadu has already been included in the list of 101 waterways. Development of an inland waterway between Kasaragod and Kolachal as part of extension of NW-III figured in the 10th and 11th Five Year Plan proposals. It will ensure continuous inland waterway stretch from the north to the south parallel to the west coast which will act as a supplementary mode of transportation,” the study pointed out.