Inland water navigation system is the integral part of transporation in Kerala. There are 41 rivers, several back waters, canals and lakes in Kerala, which offers a good network of water transport within Kerala. The backwaters of Kerala such as Ashtamudy and Vembanadu Lake provide a good means of inland navigation.
Inland water transportation is considered as the most efficient, economic and environment friendly means of transportation in Kerala. The west coast waterway has three stretches namely Kovalam-Kollam sector, Kollam-Kottappuram area and Kottappuram – Kasargod segment.
Public ferry services, speed-boats and even houseboats or ‘ketuvallams’ are other popular modes of transport in the vast network of waterways especially in the Backwaters of Kerala.
Backwaters in Kerala: Backwaters are a network of lakes, canals and estuaries and deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian sea. The backwaters of Kerala are a self supporting eco-system teeming with aquatic life. The canals connect the villages together and are still used for local transport.
Some important Kerala waterways connections
- The Vembanadu Lake which has a length of about 83 kms has Cochin in this north and Alappuzha in the southern end.
- West coast canal system which streches to 560 kms, starts from Kovalam and extends up to Hosdurg. The Cochin and Kollam parts are the most important in this canal system.
- West Coast canal runs from Kollam to Kottapuram which is of length 168 kms.
- Champakara canal of length 14 km
- Udyogamandal canal of length 23 kms
Facts and Figures
– 1895 kilometers of inland waterways in Kerala, including navigable rivers, backwaters, and man made cross canals.
– There are 44 rivers in Kerala, 41 of the westward flowing rivers combine with back waters
– 150 lakhs of passengers per annum using Wooden/Steel and fibreglass passenger boats.
– West Coast Canal was declared as national Waterway in the year 1993 and considered to be one of the most navigable and tourism potential area in India.
Coastal Shipping and Inland Navigation Department (CSIND), State Water Transport Department (SWTD) and Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation Ltd (KSINC) are the agencies which are responsible for the development of Inland Water Transport in Kerala.
Kerala State Water Transport Department (SWTD): is a governmental agency that regulates the inland navigation systems in Kerala and provides inland water transport facilities. It stands for catering to the traffic needs of the inhabitants of the waterlogged areas of the Districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kollam, Ernakulam, Kannur and Kasargode.
Boats Specifications used for water transport by SWTD
Boat Capacity – 50 to 150 passengers (wooden boats)
Speed of operation – 10 to 15 km per hour
Boat Size- Length: 20 to 35 mtrs, Width: 3 to 4.5 m, Depth: 2 m
Empty Weight – 5 to 15 tonns
Crew per boat – 5 max.
Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal
It is also known as Kochi International Container Transhipment Terminal and is a part of container trans-shipment facility. It is located in main east-west global shipping lines and offering draft of about 16 m, Cochin is destined to develop as the premier gateway to southern India, as also offering an alternative to Sri Lanka and Singapore for containers being transshipped for the Indian market.
Vizhinijam Deep Water International Container Transshipment Terminal
Govt. of Kerala has incorporated a fully owned Company by the name of Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited(VISL) with the major objective of providing external support infrastructure (such as linkages and power/water supply) for the Port.Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL) is a special purpose government company (fully owned by Government of Kerala) that would act as a implementing agency for the development of a greenfield port – Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multi purpose Seaport- at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, capital city of Kerala.