The federal Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has given clearance to the Water Metro – first of its kind in the country. The Metro, at a cost of Rs. 819 crore ($11.54 million) would connect 38 terminals across these islands covering a total distance of 78.2 kilometres. It would serve as a feeder service to the road transport system in Kochi. The project would be completed by November 2020.
“A fleet of 78 watercrafts will operate on this network. These ferries will be fast, fuel efficient, air-conditioned and environment-friendly,” said Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Managing Director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), the designated implementing agency for the project. “Once completed, the Water Metro would be the best water transport project in the entire Asia.”
The water metro system would have electrically propelled hybrid boats, with a capacity of 50 and 100 passengers, equipped with passenger information system. The boats would be manufactured by the state-run ship manufacturing company, Cochin Shipyard Limited.
Kerala has a favourable position to develop its inland water transport system. The state has a network of waterways and navigable canals extending over a length of 1680 kilometres. While land-based transport entails huge investment, waterways are navigable and with minimum investment.