Polavaram navigation channel only hope' to boost tourism in Godavari districts

Vijayawada: The proposed navigation channel connecting Rajamahendravaram to Badrachalam as part of the Polavaram irrigation project is seen as the ‘only hope’ to enhance tourism potential on Godavari river, as the patronage from tourists for Papikondalu is dwindling.

There used to be 24 air-conditioned private tourism boats and 15 launches operating from Gandi Pochamma to Papikondalu a few years ago. At present, only 14 AC boats are being operated, one of these belonging to the AP tourism development corporation.

The total seating capacity of the 15 boats is nearly 1,050. But, only two boats were operated with just 46 tickets sold on Tuesday.

So was the case from Pochavaram to Papikondalu, where 10 AC boats and 30 launches used to be operated. At present, 18 AC boats are being operated along with a boat from APTDC. The current occupancy in these boats is 30 to 40 per cent only.

With patronage from the tourists declining and the demand increasing from tourists for an opportunity to visit the ongoing works of Polavaram project and see these from a distance, the APTDC proposed to the water resources department to provide a boating point at Polavaram. “This would help more tourists to set sail on Godavari river and give a boost to tourism in the erstwhile Godavari districts,” it is reasoned.

Though the water resources department is examining the feasibility of setting up a boating point at Polavaram, sources say the high velocity of water is a constraint. More so, when the Polavaram reservoir is filled up to FRL and the velocity is low, when water level is maintained at crest level, as mishaps could take place.

However, private tourism boat operators maintain that tourism boats are allowed to operate at Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and at Srisailam Dam. What trouble would the tourists face when all safety norms are complied with at the upcoming Polavaram Dam, they ask.

APTDC general-manager Nageswara Rao said, “We have sent a proposal to the water resources department to set up a boating point at Polavaram so that it will help boost tourism on the Godavari river.”

Polavaram project superintendent engineer Narasimha Murthy said, “As the velocity of water changes, based on storage level in the Polavaram reservoir and other factors, setting up a boating point at Polavaram is not very viable. It requires more study on technicalities."

Anyhow, as the navigation channel connecting Rajamahendravaram to Badrachalam is a part of the Polavaram project, it will be of immense help if it becomes operational in two years’ time or soon after completion of the project works. There are also possibilities of transport of cargo, it is pointed out.

Boat operators want the water resources department to ensure the navigation channel facilitates the plying of their boats. It requires adequate draft ranging from a minimum of three to four feet to operate their boats measuring nearly 18 feet tall and 20 feet width.

They say that they are operating boats having permission up to 30 metres depth and appeal to the authorities to help them deal with a few locks located along the course of the channel to cross them.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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