More passenger ships and solar barges for freight transport to be launched, Transport Minister Antony Raju says

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The manufacture of five solar boats with a capacity of 75 passengers each and a solar cruise ship is currently progressing.

More passenger ships and solar barges for transporting goods will be launched to exploit the possibilities of the national waterway along the state, Transport Minister Antony Raju told the assembly on Tuesday. With the success of the solar powered ferry operating between Vaikkom and Thavanakkadavu, more solar boats are being considered due to less environmental pollution and low operating costs.

The manufacture of five solar boats with a capacity of 75 passengers each and a solar cruise ship is currently progressing. In addition, preliminary steps are being taken for the manufacture of four more solar boats with a capacity of 30 passengers each. Kerala’s Department of Shipping and Inland Navigation currently uses seven barges to transport goods. Work on two other barges is being finalized. Subsidies and operational incentives are provided to promote the movement of goods through inland waterways.

Inland waterways crossing the state are envisaged for a distance of 616 km from Kovalam to Bekal. The route from Kovalam to Kollam is partially navigable, that from Kollam to Kottapuram is fully navigable and from Kottapuram to Kozhikode and Kozhikode to Vadakara are partially navigable. The Vadakara-Mahé section will soon become fully navigable. On the 26 km stretch from Neeleswaram to Bekal, 20 km are fully navigable. The work to extend a new container over a distance of 6 km is currently progressing. The movement of goods will become fully operational once all routes are navigable. One of the current challenges is that some roads are not deep enough for barges.

The National Department of Water Transport has carried out preliminary studies on the transport of fuel oil from the Indian Oil Corporation plant at Ambalamukal in Kochi to Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited in Kollam. Detailed studies are underway. The technical and economic studies on solar electric haulage services (Ro-Ro) from Willingdon Island to Bolgatty and from Vaikkom to Thavanakkadavu have been completed. On this basis, a sanction was granted for the manufacture of electric ro-ro ships.


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