Panel clears project assessment norms for Rs750 crore Kochi Water Metro project
New Delhi: An expert panel of the Union environment ministry has cleared the terms of reference for the Kochi Water Metro project, a part of an integrated transportation system for Kochi city.
The project, estimated to cost Rs750 crore, is part of government of India’s plan to develop an integrated transportation system for the city. It was discussed during the latest meeting of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change’s (MoEFCC) expert appraisal committee (EAC) for infrastructure projects on 26-28 July.
Terms of references, or ToRs, are guidelines for conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies of projects, based on which the Union environment ministry grants or rejects green clearance to a project.
After detailed deliberations on the proposal, the EAC recommended ToR while seeking a study on the “impact of dredging and dumping on marine ecology” and a management plan by any institute specializing in marine ecology.
EAC, while recommending the project, also called for a study on the impact of dredging on the shore line, details of wastewater management and environmental monitoring plan.
The panel specifically sought a detailed biodiversity impact assessment report and management plan which should include the project’s impact on the rivers, estuary and the sea, corals and coral communities, sea grasses, sea weeds, sub-tidal habitats, fishes, other marine and aquatic micro, macro and mega flora and fauna including benthos, plankton, turtles, birds, etc.
As per the minutes of the EAC’s meeting, which were reviewed by Mint, the expert panel was told that project is in line with plans of the Union ministry of urban development, which is trying to set up an integrated transportation system for Kochi city.
The project work involves the renovation of jetties, boatyard and access roads around, providing parking facilities and maintenance dredging activities. EAC was told that almost all the boat channels identified for the Kochi Water Metro project are current ferry routes and that dredging shall be limited to maintenance dredging for removal of silt deposits.
The proposed project involves 16 identified routes connecting 38 jetties across 10 island communities across a 76km route network.
“Of these 38 jetties, 35 are existing jetties where boat services from Kerala State Water Transport Corporation and 251 private agencies are currently being operated. Eighteen jetties proposed to be developed as major jetties or main boat hubs while the remaining 20 jetties shall be developed as minor jetties for water transit services,” the minutes said.
The entire Inland Water Transport project is proposed to be realised over a period of four years—2017-2020. It is estimated to have a daily ridership of 40,000 by 2019, 54,000 by 2025 and 86,000 by 2035.