By Priti naik
The much-awaited water taxi service in Mumbai will finally be inaugurated on February 17. The taxi service will be connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The inauguration ceremony will be done in the presence of Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The water taxi is expected to reduce travel time between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, and was first planned three decades ago. However, it has become a priority in recent years under the Central Waterways Initiative. A central agency and two state agencies – the Mumbai Port Trust, Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and CIDCO which worked in tandem on the project.
So far three routes have been finalized for the inauguration of the water taxi between the domestic cruise terminal at Ferry Wharf Mazgaon in South Mumbai and the Belapur terminals at Navi Mumbai, Belapur and Elephanta Caves, and Belapur and JNPT. An official said that the roads will be further extended to Mandwa, Revas and Karanja among others, adding that the newly constructed jetty at Belapur will also be inaugurated.
A total of four operators will provide the services and use speedboats for water taxis and catamarans for public transport. While explaining the rates, an official said, “The rates become competitive even before launch. One of the operators only charges Rs 290 between DCT and Belapur by catamaran and there will also be a monthly pass of Rs 12,000 for the same route. The catamarans will reach their destination in 40-50 minutes. Apart from this, there will be a return fare of Rs 825 for Belapur and Elephanta.
Apparently, the speedboat fare will be between Rs 800 and 1200 between DCT and Belapur and the distance will be covered in 25 to 30 minutes. The Inland Water Department will cut travel time from 1.5 hours to just 45 minutes, officials said.
In April 2020, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya, who was then in charge of the Ministry of Marine and Waterways, announced the central government’s intention to launch water taxi services in 12 itineraries including from Mumbai Domestic Cruise Terminal to Nerul, Belapur, Vashi, Airoli, Rewas, Karanja, Dharamtar, KanhojiAngre Island and Thane.