Kochi: The state government has sought central funding to roll out 10 more solar passenger ferries as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is set to officially launch the country's first such passenger boat in the Vaikom-Tavanakadavu sector on January 12.
“A proposal has been submitted to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for 10 solar boats. This will be in addition to 14 boats under construction which will also be given the option of running on solar power,” a senior official said.
The country’s first solar ferry ‘Aditya’ will be deployed by the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) in the 2.5-km Vaikom-Thavanakadavu section in Alappuzha district from January 12. Mr Pinarayi Vijayan will officially launch the 75-seater solar boat, constructed by Navalt, a joint venture of two French companies and a Kochi-based Indian company, at a function at Vaikom boat jetty at 5 p.m. on that day while Mr Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for New & Renewable Energy with independent charge , will be the chief guest.
“The plan is to replace the existing fleet with solar ferries step by step. The centre had earlier allotted a fund of Rs 22 crore based on which the construction of 14 catamaran boats is going on at various yards. It has been decided to give the option to run the boats on solar power too as part of the Go-Green initiative of the state government,” the official said.
Compared to traditional boats, the solar ferry boats cause no air, water and noise pollution and can break even in three years. Also they cause 40 per cent less running expenses than the diesel boats and are more profitable than the latter in the long run....