Kochi: After tapping the potential in the tourism field, the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is now planning to foray into the cargo sector which would facilitate safe and cheap transport of dangerous chemicals and industrial raw-materials.
The Planning Commission has already asked the SWTD to consider operation of barge services at select sections.
"The CUSAT (Cochin University of Science and Technology) has been entrusted with study of several factors such as feasibility and possible routes among others," said Shaji V. Nair, SWTD director. "One of the projects being considered is the transportation of furnace oil to the Kollam-based Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited. The report is expected to be submitted in a month."
Meanwhile, following the success of its 'See Kuttanad' programme where tourists would travel in the upper deck of passenger boats, the department is all set to deploy first of its kind double -deck solar cruise boat by March next. "It will also be operated in Alappuzha to cater to tourists," the official said.
The department is all set to roll out 'Water Taxis' as part of the modernisation drive. The 'water taxis' will also cater to tourists. Each can accommodate 15 tourists and can travel at a speed of over 10 knots.
Two more fast-ferry services in the Kottayam-Alapuzha (36 km) and the Alapuzha-Kumarakom sections will be introduced by December end. The construction of the 120-seater boat with separate AC cabin is nearing completion.
As part of the modernisation drive, the department is replacing all its old boats with steadier catamaran-type ones. "To start with, the passenger boats operating in Ernakulam region will be first replaced with the modern steel boats from May-end," he said.
The SWTD is also considering introducing a long-term project to introduce amphibian bus that can ply both on land and water in the state. "We're currently attempting to develop indigenous technology at low cost rather than importing such a vehicle," Mr Nair said....