Sunday, July 26, 2009

Buckingham canal revival in limbo

Buckingham canal revival in limbo - The Times of India

CHENNAI: The much-awaited revival of the Buckingham canal as part of the Centre's Inland Waterway Project is in limbo even nine months after the passage of the Inland Waterways Bill in Parliament.

Though the state public works department (PWD) has submitted a proposal at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore to the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) for the dredging and cleaning of the 50-km stretch from Muttukadu [muttu-k-kaadu] creek to Edaiyur creek near Kalpakkam [kal-paakkam] in the first phase of the project, no headway has been made so far.

"The works have gained momentum in neighbouring Kerala, but the project has been limping along in our state. The first phase of the work was originally scheduled to commence in February this year," official sources said.

The chairman of IWAI visited the proposed sites in November 2008 and asked the PWD to submit a proposal for the dredging and cleaning of the stretch as per guidelines issued by the IWAI. It was also proposed to launch ferry service in the creek on an experimental basis to exploit the tourism potential. But, no progress has been made even after the submission of the proposal.

The revival of Buckingham project has reportedly lost momentum after a change of guard in the Union shipping ministry following elections.

The IWAI has, however, sanctioned Rs 16.63 crore to establish inland waterway terminals at Bolgatty Island and Willingdon Island in areas coming under the Cochin Port Trust in Kerala.

The Buckingham canal, which is to be revived at an estimated cost of Rs 450-500 crore, is falling under the National Waterway - IV connecting Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

Under the project envisaged to promote inland water transport, the north Buckingham Canal will be revived and made naviagable from Arangam village on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border to Ennore creek for a distance of 58 km and also the south Buckingham canal from Sholinganallur [choazhingga-:nalloor] to Marakkanam [marak-kaa'nam], a distance of 105 km. However, the central portion of the canal, running to a length of 7.1 km, could not be made navigable due to construction of Mass Rapid Transport System and encroachments.

It has also been planned to construct terminals at Pulicat lake, Basin Bridge, Palavakkam [paala-vaakkam], Alamparai [aalamparai], Kazhanchi and Cuddalore [kadaloor] for loading and unloading of goods. While the PWD will take up the dredging and cleaning work, the IWAI will create required infrastructure such as terminals (fixed or floating) and modification of existing bridges and culverts.

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