THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After seaplane and Air Kerala, another much-touted project of the state, the high-speed hydrofoil ferry service connecting Kochi with Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode ports, is unlikely to take off. The reason: A Kochi-based company which imported two vessels from Croatia failed to get the Directorate General (DG) of Shipping’s approval for customising them, including its engines and propeller, to suit the state’s conditions.
According to a senior officer at the Director of Port (DoP), Thiruvananthapuram, the project remained a non-starter despite the state government having reached an agreement with a private agency named Safe Boat Trip Private Limited, Ernakulam to start the service.
The project was announced two years ago, but the company failed to submit its proposal to DG Shipping for approval, despite being told to do so. Besides, the company is yet to complete the survey of the route and other ancillary works required for getting permission, said the DoP, adding, in the present circumstances, it is hard to believe the agency would complete all the works required to get the approval in time.
Ports Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran told Express though the company failed to get the approval, the state government has not wound up the project. “There is still room for the service to get started if the company comes up with required approval and vessels modified as per the standard laid down by the DG Shipping,” he said.
When contacted, Safe Boat Trip’s project manager P T Biju said it has not dropped the project. Though the DG Shipping’s approval was not granted, the company has altered the vessels docked at the Cochin Shipyard. It also plans to approach the Mercantile Marine Department. Experts said meeting the strict guidelines set for holding passenger ship services on both exposed and inland waters and profitability factor involved the business are hard to meet. The project was announced during the time of the previous government. The hydrofoil would take four-and-half-hours to cover the sea between the two ports.
Major ones in the pipeline
Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON)
Petrochemical and Pharma Park, Kochi
Life Science Park, Thiruvananthapuram
Laptops and computer server manufacturing
CIAL-model company for setting up tyre factories
Projects that never took off
Proposed in 2006 as India’s first airline, with state govern-ment as one of the primary shareholders. The plan was to com-mence operations by April, 2013. In 2015, it was decided to defer the project till a clear picture on government rules emerged
The Kerala Seaplane was a commercial service launched in June, 2013 in Kollam. However, commercial operations could not start till now due to opposition from the local fishing community
Various plans were announced for starting helicopter service from the Nedumbassery to Sabarimala, but none of them has taken off yet.
First proposed during the previous UDF regime. The I7,500-crore project was proposed to cover 35.12 km in two cities and the state’s revised share in the project was pegged at I2,700 crore. In March this year, DMRC announced exiting from the project