Kerala State Water Transport Department
|Type||Separate government department in the state of kerala.|
|Industry||Public transport ferry service|
|Headquarters||Alappuzha, Kerala, India|
|Products||Passenger and Cargo Ferry|
|Services||Operates 81 boats|
Kerala State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is a governmental department that regulates the inland navigation systems in the Indian state of 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. The department is headed by the State Minister in charge of transportation.
This system consists of 1895 kilometers of waterways, including navigable rivers, backwaters, and man made cross canals. Most of these are in Travancore-Cochin region. Of the 44 rivers in Kerala, 41 of the westward flowing rivers combine with back waters and man made canals to form an integral part of inland navigation system.
Even through it is a commercial department, its functioning is like a service Department, ever since ‘Transportation’ came under “Essential Service” in Kerala. The Department transports about 150 lakhs of passengers per annum using Wooden/Steel and fibreglass passenger boats.
The Kerala State Water Transport Department formed during 1968 with its headquarters (Directorate) in the District of Alappuzha.The objective of the department was to provide transport facilities and cargo transportation to the people residing in the water logged areas at cheaper rates. Construction of roads, bridges and roadways shortened the operation of the department to passenger transport only, providing backwater transport through ferries. The system is free of pollution, accidents, and is affordable.The government has now mooted setting up Kerala State Boat Jetty Corporation with a vision to convert the boat jetties in Kerala to world class standards.This corporation will enhance and develop the boat jetties into commercial assets for the state. Some jetties were identified for development like Mairan jetty,Kaavalam jetty and Kumaran jetty.Jetty based shopping centers and cafeterias are sources of huge returns. The system provides on average 79,000 km of service to 80,000 people through its 13 stations and 81 boats daily.
The Director is the Head of the Department, who reports to the Ministry of Transport in the state. During formation, the service operation was only in the Districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam & Kollam with the headquarters in Alappuzha as its nerve centre of all the functions and activities. Later the functions and activities were decentralised by establishing an office for the Mechanical Engineer and three Regional Offices in the Districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam (Chaganacherry) and Kasargode, headed by three Senior Superintendents. Now the Department has thirteen Stations Offices as given below.
The Controlling Officers of these Stations are Station Masters. The service operation of boats are under the immediate control of the Station Masters of these stations.
The function of the Department are trifurcated into three wings
- Management - Under the control of Administrative Assistant
- Operation - Under the Traffic Superintendent
- Repair & Maintenance -Under the Mechanical Engineer
Of late, the Department was using only conventional type wooden (well seasoned teak wood) passenger boats for transporting passengers. Now the department has switched over to the use of modern fibreglass/steel passenger boats.
- 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.
Please visit Official site of Kerala State Water Transport Department for detailed schedule, route, fare and other queries.
Realising the tourism potential of Kerala, the department is attempting to garner worldwide attention, mainly of tourists. The new website (swtd.gov.in)offer details of the service trips, which are fast becoming popular among tourists as one of the most affordable modes to enjoy the beauty of the scenic Kerala backwaters. The website is expected to help tourists in a major way and thus, make the department more popular among them.
It has interesting links, one of which is “Places Enroute” giving details of every trip of the department, with the starting time. A brief description of the sights one can behold en route has been provided. For instance, the 29-km Alappuzha-Edathua trip, which costs a mere Rs.10, covers some major landmarks: the finishing point of the internationally acclaimed Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Chavara Bhavan, and ancient temples and lamp posts, apart from lush paddy fields.
Under the “Tourism” head, the site offers useful information on the popular Kollam-Alappuzha tourist boat service, with tariffs and other operational details. SEE KUTTANADU passenger-cum-tourist service is another service offered by the department.