India: Inland Waterway Project Still on Paper
Inland waterways are ideal for Kochi. Land acquisition or rehabilitation problems don’t come in its way but there are other hurdles to be crossed for implementing the project. Though the Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI) has implemented the National Waterway-3, of which the Kollam-Kottappuram stretch of the Kasargod-Kovalam project is almost ready, the waterway project mooted for Kochi is still on paper thanks to the apathy of the Water Resources Department.
Studies have been conducted but the state government is yet to take up the issue. Silt-filled canals, their size, the bridges over them, fishing nets, water hyacinths and objections from the public come in the way of making waterways in Kochi a reality.
“First of all, the Edappally canal, Thevara-Perandoor canal, Chilavannor Thodu, Thevara canal and market canal, identified for the project are highly silted. All the canals have to be dredged,” said Satheesh B Nair of Inland Water Transport, National Transport Planning and Research Centre.
The bridges over the canals are another problem. “The bridges over Rameswaram canal and Edappally canal, the NH bridge over the Chilavanoor canal and the Vytilla bridge are not high. The height of the bridge must be 5.5 metres for national waterways but no norms have been set for other waterways,” he said.
The bridge divides the Thevara canal into two and it has to be considered as two independent canals. Moreover, encroachments are rampant on canal sides. As a result, they turn narrow and polluted. The canals must at least be 14 m wide and 2.2 m deep.
Water weeds and water hyacinths also hinder the project. The weeds tend to coil around the radar and effect engine functioning.
Fishing nets and the depth availability also hinder the work, besides the local objections, said N Sivaraman, director, IWAI. The authority has developed the Amabalamedu, Eloor, Maradu, Udyogamandal and Chambakkara terminals. The work on the Irumpanam terminal is still going on.
Water ways are eco-friendly. “Interface of tides and mechanical agitation of boats will keep the water in the canals healthy,” said Satheesh.
Dredging Today Staff, December 15, 2011;