Kochi Water Metro to revive city canals for navigable transport services

According to sources, technical studies suggest that the 11.23-km Edappally canal can be made fully navigable.
Kochi Water Metro
Kochi Water Metro Express | File photo

KOCHI: As Kochi Water Metro approaches its first anniversary, the first-of-its-kind initiative in the country has ambitious plans for the future. One notable proposal is a service through the city’s once-navigable canals.

The eagerly awaited canal rejuvenation initiative — part of the Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System managed by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) — aims to ferry passengers through these canals to various destinations.

Kochi is known for its network of canals and backwaters. But, many of these waterways are now in disrepair, primarily due to illegal encroachments and waste dumping.

KMRL managing director Loknath Behera told TNIE that making Kochi’s canals navigable is a long-term project and the agency is working on it. “The Kochi Water Metro plans to introduce smaller boats in the future that can navigate through the city’s canals. Once the canal development and rejuvenation projects are under way, we may proceed with smaller boats that can carry 20-25 passengers. This approach will reduce operational cost and improve city connectivity,” said Behera.

The water metro — launched on April 25, 2023 — has not only gained popularity in the city but also attracted international recognition for its 100% sustainable mode of transportation.

“The canal rejuvenation project will include a water metro component. Over time, water transport in and around Kochi will be managed by the water metro,” Behera said. 


‘Boats will be more comfortable in future’

“The aim is to unify all transportation modes under a single system and integrate various methods of travel,” Behera said.

He said the water metro boats will be more comfortable in the future. “During a visit to Leningrad, Russia, we observed boats similar to water metro that offered greater comfort and were more passenger-friendly. Although our current boats prioritise passenger comfort, future models will evolve to set new standards, much like the Vande Bharat train,” said Behera.

As part of the rejuvenation project, six canals in Kochi — Edappally canal, Chilavannoor canal, Thevara canal, Perandoor canal, Market canal, and Konthuruthy canal — will be made navigable and clean. However, the Rs 1,528-crore project funded by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) is yet to take off due to multiple various reasons.

According to sources, technical studies suggest that the 11.23-km Edappally canal can be made fully navigable. “Market Canal (0.664 km) will also be restored to its former glory, aiding the transportation of goods to Ernakulam Market,” the source said. The canals will also feature well-planned embankments, lighting, and walkways.

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