The Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has urged the government to develop a full-fledged waterway between Bantwal and Malavoor through the Netravathi and the Gurupura (Phalguni) for the overall development of Mangaluru.
In a letter to the Ports and Inland Water Transport Department, chamber president Isaac Vas said that the number of Dhows (small vessels) and yachts visiting the Mangaluru Old Port has considerably reduced. This was because no feeder cargo was generated from the industrial hinterland due to the lack of efficient waterways both on the Netravathi and the Phalguni. These waterways should be developed and connected to different ports, including Goa, Lakshadweep, Mumbai, Kochi and Karwar to improve economic activities.
Mr. Vas said that a waterway has to start from Thumbe in the Netravathi, come down to Old Port and go up to Malavoor vented dam connecting the international airport here. Thus, it will form a critical link and be a catalyst for economic development along the riverbanks. Besides coastal trade with Lakshadweep Islands and fishing, the Netravathi has a huge potential for various economic activities, including tourism, agri-products and fish industries, along with the hospitality industry, he said.
The Ports Department may lease out one acre each of land to entrepreneurs for boat and yacht building activities thereby helping Mangaluru to reclaim its old glory in boat building. There also exist many opportunities in ship repair activities. If good draft of about 4.5 m below chart datum was provided in river channels, vessels up to 100 m length could easily be taken alongside for repairs, Mr. Vas said.
He suggested a direct dredged access to the sea where presently Bharati Defence and Infrastructure Ltd. (BDIL) was located by providing a floating bridge across the sand bar for regular vehicular movement. Sea access has to be made into a dry dock on BDIL side, resulting in connected economic benefits of ship repair and service industry.
The area between Kulur bridge and Malavoor dam on the Phalguni is suitable for fish farming that provides considerable employment. Fish meal and fish oil industries too could be located to localise the industry. Non-edible catch could be transported by water instead by road to these industries.
Mr. Vas said that the seven floating restaurants were unable to operate further into the two rivers for lack of waterways. The proposed waterway should promote tourism, generating employment. If riverbanks were developed to load and unload different goods, transportation will become easy.
Development of water sports and river front improvement could also be achieved through developing the waterway, Mr. Vas said.