Faster, cheaper and
sight-seeing in one bargain
George Adimathra | TNN

Number Of Commuters Using LIMITATIONS APLENTY Total number Steel Oldest boat The Boat Service To Reach procured in 1994 of boats boats Mattancherry, Fort Kochi And Wooden Latest boat procured in 2010 boats Other Locations Has Almost Service frequency First service at Last service at Doubled In Two Years




4.45 am

9.30 pm

every 15 minutes

Kumar Shankar Roy


he ever-congested roads and rising bus and auto fares h ave m a d e city folks travelling to Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Mulavukadu choose boats for their daily commute. Statistics reveal that the number of passengers has nearly doubled in two years, helping the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) increase its daily revenue. Inspired by the turn around, the department is now planning to widen its fleet by adding more boats, thereby increasing the frequency of services. According to Jose ph Xavier, regional traffic superintendent, SWTD, two years ago the expected passenger traffic was 8,000 per day. But recently it touched 15,000, giving a huge boost to the cash-strapped coffers of SWTD. To tap the potential and reduce the traffic snarls on city roads, the department has already sent a proposal to the state governm e n t d e m a n d i n g m o re boats, he said. “This sudden increase in number of passengers started last year and has been going up since then. For instance, on October 11, 2010 we recorded 11,340 passengers and had an income of Rs 26,237. Compared to that, the same day next year we collected Rs 32,686 from a total of 14,140 passengers. This is the case on weekdays and the rush during weekends is more,” Joseph said, adding that foreign and local tourists too are increasingly

using boat services. The official finds the low ticket charge coupled with less commuting time, as the main reason for people choosing the water route. “Consider the minimum bus fare of Rs 5 and the choking auto charge. For traveling the same route in a private boat one has to shell out Rs 50. Citing the potential the department has demanded additional boats to run more services,” Joseph said. At present SWTD operates 48 services to Fort Kochi, 25 to Mattancherry, 17 to Vypeen and nine to Mulavukadu using eight boats. The service that commences at 4.45 am ends with the last one at 9.30 pm. One-way journey cost for one person is Rs 2.50. When asked about safety issues, as boats are allegedly overcrowded to meet the demand, the traffic superintendent claimed that all the boats have the stipulated safety g adg ets to meet any emergency. “As per the high court directive, each boat which carries 100 passengers should have safety gear like 50 life jackets, including those for children and buoyant apparatus that could serve 25 people. All the department boats have this gear and the engine crew is also connected with senior department officials through Closed User Group (CUG) phones which would enable us to rush with help to any emerg ency s p o t i m m e d i a t e l y, ” h e pointed out. He added that police should take steps to check overcrowding of passenger boats.

2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December

Passengers Revenue
3,20,450 3,56,951 3,91,832 4,02,004 4,20,152 4,39,312 Rs 7,39,913 Rs 8,31,673 Rs 9,00,627 Rs 9,25,521 Rs 9,40,548 Rs 10,26,590

Ticket charges from Ernakulam
Fort Kochi Mattancherry Vypeen Mulavukadu


2. 50 8 150

3.50 9 180

2 6 70

3. 50 5 50

Time taken from Ernakulam
Fort Kochi Mattancherry Vypeen Mulavukadu


20 min

40 min

25 min 50 min


more than 100 passengers, the SWTD boats ply the waters carrying 120 to 130 passengers. SWTD officials ruled out possibility of accidents, drawing attention to the strength of steel boats. According to them, trying to restrain passengers who have bought tickets from boarding boats would result in altercations. However, passenger associations find this a strange observation. “The department, instead, should make more boats available and operate additional services to meet the demand. Every time we meet the officials, they say that more boats are in store as per budget allocation, but we have not seen any new boat plying,” said C V Ranjith, president of Vypeen Island passengers association. “There should also be an independent body comprising social activists and government officials to monitor the condition of boats. Though it is not practical to make everyone wear safety jackets, it should be made compulsory for children and senior citizens. I am sure that if police are roped in, it could help restrict passenger entry,” Ranjith said.

BUS & AUTO: 30 min to 1 hour depending on road traffic


ifty life jackets-of which 10 per cent custom made for children, 2 buoyant apparatus that could serve 25 people each, 8 lifebuoys, each of which could serve four people and CUG phone connection. Life jackets are installed with 500 m range whistle and water activated lights. The boat hull is divided into four compartments to prevent sinking in the event of an accident. Yearly maintenance work, including dry-docking, is conducted.

Safety of passengers is most important and no compromise should be made in this regard. Police department is ready to allot policemen at jetties. However, the whole issue can be solved if SWTD increases the number of services and boats
T Gopalakrishna Pillai | KOCHI CITY DEPUTY

hough the officials of State Water Transport Department (SWTD) are upbeat owing to rapid increase in passenger traffic and the resultant revenue collection, commuters who struggle with the heavy rush during peak hours are not a happy lot. According to them, the services are being run in violation of safety norms set by the high court and that a tragedy posed by an overloaded boat could not be ruled out. Leena Vijayan, a regular passenger from Mulavukad pointed out that, though the HC had strictly ordered that each boat should not carry


Not even a single passenger can be seen wearing life jackets. It should be made mandatory for school kids, women and senior citizens. Since there is no coordination between boat jetties’ ticketing sections, tickets are given out regardless of boat capacity. This results in rise in passenger turnout. I hope the SWTD will wake up before another accident strikes

National business quiz on February 17

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Kottayam: National business quiz will be held by the School of Management and Business Studies of MG University on February 17. Winners will get Rs 22,222 and runners-up will get Rs 11,111. For details, contact 9496333809. TNN

`1,500cr for new medical colleges
Ravi Menon

State-sponsored agencies behind fake notes, suspects NIA

Andhra Pradesh Medical Services &
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Kochi: An investment of Rs 260-300 crore each would be required for setting up new medical colleges in five districts of the state, according to sources familiar with the development. In addition to Malappuram, Kasaragod, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts, the government is also planning to set up a new medical college at Haripad in Alappuzha district. Sources said the government was planning to tap funds for these projects via PPP (public-private partnership) model. New medical colleges will be set up in Malappuram and Idukki which currently have 500-bed and 170-bed hospitals, respectively The Idukki hos. pital will be upgraded to a 300bed hospital in accordance

with government rules, which stipulate that a teaching hospital attached to a medical college should have a minimum of 300 licensed beds. The locations of the colleges to come up in Pathanamthitta, Kasaragod and Haripad are yet to be decided. “The Kerala government plans to retain at least 26% stake in these five projects, depending on the infrastructure and supporting facilities it can mobilize. The rest will be held by domestic institutional investors, NRIs and private investors,” sources said. The formation of a special purpose vehicle to implement the five projects is under discussion. In the interim, a government society will oversee the progress of the projects, starting with the formalities of land acquisition.


Kochi: The quality of duplication exhibited in the fake currency notes seized at Taliparamba shows the involvement of a state-sponsored racket, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted to the Kerala high court on Tuesday. Many features of Indian currency notes have been duplicated at such a high quality that is impossible for individuals, the NIA submitted to the court during the hearing of the bail applications of Praveen and Kalam, the first and second accused in the case. Fake Indian currency notes of Rs 1,000 denomination, totalling Rs 8,96,000, were seized from three men travelling in a car to Kannur on September 18 last year. The men were arrested immediately They were identified as V P Pra. deep Kumar, 42, of Pilathara, Kamal Umar, 42, of Kanhangad in Kasaragod and MP Ashish of Chovva. NIA is currently probing the international links in the fake currency racket and investigation has revealed that the racket operated through Dubai and Abu Dhabi to bring the currency to India, the investigation agency submitted to the court. NIA had recently taken over investigation into two more fake currency rackets, in addition to the Taliparamba case.

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Cochin Port invites tender for CFS
Kochi: Cochin Port has invited tenders for setting up the third container freight station (CFS) near to International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), Vallarpadam. According to a release received here on Tuesday, 7.52 hectares of land will be leased for 30 years for setting up the container freight station. The port has plans to set up four container freight station close to ICTT, and work has started on one while tenders have already been invited for the second and third. The port also hopes to get approval for the fourth one soon. TNN

RREC invites applications from interested Solar Power Project Developers for selection of 50 projects of 1MW (AC) each Small Solar PV Plant to be connected on 11kv level at 33/11kv Discom ’s Substation in Rajasthan under Rajasthan Solar Energy Policy, 2011. RIS documents shall be on sale from 03.02.2012 and can also be downloaded from the RREC’s Website :www.rrecl.com. The last date of submission of bids is on or before 19.03.2012 till 3.00 P.M. Forfurther details,please visit ourwebsite :www.rrecl.com.

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1 (A Government of Raiasthan Undertakina