Waterways are finally being used as an efficient mode of public transport. Government bodies are planning to reduce water taxi fares from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai and Elephanta Caves in the near future. The government is in the process of extending the route from Belapur to Navi Mumbai to Gateway of India which so far goes to the Domestic Cruise Terminal (DCT) at Bhaucha Dhakka. At present, the demand for these water taxis, which started in February this year, is low.
This has been planned by the Mumbai Maritime Board and other maritime authorities in the ministry. According to senior government officials, in the initial phase they are planning to lower fares to around Rs 495-500 on the Belapur-Elephanta route which is mainly used by tourists and is preferred at weekends.
At present, a trip from DCT->JNPT->Elepha->DCT and Belapur->JNPT->Elepha->Belapur costs Rs 800 with a travel time of 35 minutes. Sources said that gradually as demand for this route and attendance increases; will we consider further reducing fares to Rs 375-400 per trip. However, there is no immediate implementation of the towing rate reduction and this is still under consideration. To improve the demand for water taxis, more ro-pax will be introduced in the near future in Kashid, Rewas, etc.
“We decided to bring water taxis to Gateway of India to attract more passengers. This will however take time; probably after the monsoon,” a government official said.
Apart from this, there are also plans to integrate eco-friendly water taxis into the system. Private operators and the Mumbai Maritime Board are working on introducing solar and electric catamarans and boats that will function as water taxis. By September-October this year, at least 2 such boats are expected to arrive at a cost of Rs 2-3 crore each. First, they will test these boats and their functionality before introducing them for commercial use.
Cruise operators and owners explaining the cost difference said that a slow diesel boat of less than 5 knots per hour costs them Rs 12-13 per liter of diesel. However, if a diesel-powered speedboat is introduced, the cost could reach even Rs 30-35 per litre, which zooms through the water much faster. However, an eco-friendly boat powered by solar or electric power will cost less than Rs 5-7 per unit which will go to 12-14 knots on average.
Similarly, even tourists are catered for with an international cruise terminal which is expected to come into existence in Mumbai by June-July 2024. On May 14, the first Incredible India International Cruise Conference was inaugurated by the Minister of India. Union of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and AYUSH; Sarbananda Sonowal. Here, plans have been unveiled to develop cruise terminals in different port cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, etc. in the years to come.
“Cruise tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing sectors and it has a lot of growth potential in India. We intend to make India a tourism hub through this and we are ready to provide the best infrastructure and technology,” Sonowal said.
The cruise terminal development works are ongoing and by October this year the primary works will be ready for operation and maintenance; it will be ready by June-July 2024. Once ready, the new international cruise terminal in Mumbai can accommodate 5,000 passengers using cruise ships, it can accommodate 1 million passengers, it can remain operational throughout the year round and the berth facilities can also be used by locals. By 2029, the government intends to develop 5 cruise piers in Mumbai.
How much is the fare?
* DCT and Karanja – Rs 1,200
* DCT and Belapur – Rs 1,210
* DCT and JNPT – Rs 200
* DCT and Kanoji Angre – Rs 1,500
*Central Business District (CBD), Belapur and Nerul – Rs 1,100
*JNPT and Belapur – Rs 800
*DCT-> JNPT-> Elephanta -> DCT – Rs 800
*Belapur-> JNPT-> Elephanta-> Belapur – Rs 800
Time and frequency
The water taxis will run from 8 am to 8 pm, 330 days a year, except for a few days during the monsoon season. They will leave every few hours, with a higher frequency in the morning. It will take about 30-40 minutes.
There are a total of eight boats allocated for passengers so far. A speedboat can accommodate 10 to 30 passengers and a catamaran can carry 65 people. Belapur Jetty also has parking space for 75 cars and 85 two-wheelers.
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2022, 11:15 p.m. IST