With the first air-conditioned vessel for the ₹747-crore Water Metro project expected to roll out of the Cochin Shipyard by November, local bodies, NGOs and others have sought earmarking of at least 2% of the project cost for tourism promotion on the islands along the waterways.
The first vessel will be used primarily to conduct speed and related tests on the waterway spread across the Greater Kochi region. A total of 23 100-seater vessels will be inducted before the last quarter of 2021, it is learnt. The second lot of 55 50-seater ferries will be launched later.
“The State Government must prevail on the Koci Metro Rail Ltd so that it sets apart at least ₹16 crore as corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to increase tourist footfall in the pristine islands,” demanded George Kattunilath, general secretary of the Greater Cochin Development Watch (GCDW), an NGO.
The Edapally Block Panchayat Council recently passed a resolution, raising a similar demand. “The block panchayat comprises four panchayats – Kadamakudy, Cheranalloor, Mulavukad and Elankunnapuzha, which together have a population of approximately 1.20 lakh,” said Ebenser Chullikat of GCDW.
Referring to an integrated development plan for Bolghatty and Vallarpadam islands, readied by the School of Architecture of Government Engineering College, Thrissur, he pointed out how increase in tourist footfall can revive pokkali farming, traditional art forms etc., providing an impetus to local communities. The development plan suggests promotion of tourism by improving water transport connectivity to the locales.
Mr. Chullikat spoke of how Kadamakudy acquired ‘kadannal kudungi’ as its nickname, due to inadequate connectivity with the mainland.