Opening a new chapter in Kerala’s transport sector, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, February 15, dedicated the 520 Km long National Waterway to the nation.
“The 520 km long first phase of the national waterways dedicated to the nation. Inauguration of the eco-friendly mode marks the beginning of a new chapter in infrastructure development. In these past 5 years, the State has made a quantum leap in mobility and transportation sector,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his tweet soon after the launching.
Apart from the commissioning of the first phase, Vijayan also launched the works of the second phase. He said that the state saw a boom in the transport sector after the LDF government came to power. The developments were not in just road transport but was quite evident in Water and Air Ways, he added.
The setting up of the National Waterway opens new possibilities, Vijayan said. With water transport becoming a reality from Bekal in the North to Kovalam in the south, low cost and pollution free travel is becoming a reality in Kerala. The West Coast Canal, also known as the West Coast Canal, has several canals connecting lakes and rivers parallel to the coast of Kerala. Of this, 328 km from Kollam to Kallai in Kozhikode district is National Waterway (NH-3). The central government agency IWAI carried out operations in only 168 km from Kollam to Kottapuram. The state government developed the 160 km stretch from Kottapuram to Kallai River. The other waterways would come under State Waterways, the Chief Minister said. In addition, there are 1200 km of feeder canals in various districts.
Vijayan said that the government after coming to power decided to classify the canals and bridges in Southern Districts and Malabar for water transportation. The government then decided to implement the programme in three phases, he added.
In the first phase, the existing canals were made navigable by increasing the depth and width. Apart from this, all the encroachment on the banks of the water canals were evicted.
The Chief Minister said that the construction of the West Bank Canal and Feeder Canals would complete in Phase III, which will end in 2025.
KWIL, an SPV company, is handing the construction works. All the canal banks passing through urban areas were encroached. In addition, canals became a dumping ground for solid waste from cities.
The government also implemented rehabilitation and land acquisition activities of those who lost land due to the canal development. He said that 60 families in Varkala would get rehabilitation through the Punargeham project at a cost of Rs 600 lakh.
The Chief Minister stated that the Corporations and Municipalities have a big role to play in preventing waste disposal. He said that installation of CCTV cameras, barbed wire fencing along the canals and awareness campaigns are going on to prevent waste dumping.