The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is to take the majority equity in Kerala Waterways Infrastructures (KWIL), an SPV (special purpose vehicle) floated for the development of 610-km of waterways. The Kerala Cabinet, which met this week, has rejigged the shareholding pattern of KWIL to include IWAI in the fold. Decks are cleared to ease cash flows and speed up work on waterways development, according to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. KWIL is focused on commissioning a west coast canal (WCC) at an investment of Rs 2,300 crore.
“The LDF government is committed to complete the critical stretches on the Kovalam-Kasargod WCC by May 2020,” Vijayan said. What buoys the project is the Centre’s renewed thrust on inland water transport, which is meant to ease costs of the cargo movement and thus boost India’s export competitiveness. As part of this focus, IWAI had offered to take equity participation in Kerala’s waterways project.
Currently, KWIL has an equity ratio of 49:49:2 for the Kerala government, CIAL (Cochin International Airport) and two private entrepreneurs, respectively. Following IWAI investment, the shareholding pattern will be as follows: 49% for IWAI, 26% for the Kerala government and 25% for CIAL. CIAL is a public-private participation company, where the state government holds a 26% share.
A good part of this long-envisaged waterways already exists. Project managers will have to carry out land acquisition and make clogged parts navigable by dredging.
State finance minister TM Thomas Isaac told FE that waterways development has been expedited, harnessing central funds, to help not only tourism, but also cargo movement and even in freeing the road traffic of congestion because of cargo trucks.