Bhadrachalam:  The Centre has recently given green signal for the development of inland waterways between Bhadrachalam and Rajahmundry, covering 171 km, and Bhadrachalam and Nasik, covering 1,184 km. The measure will help the temple town gain significance at the State and national level.

It may be recalled that Roads and Buildings Minister Tummala Nageswara Rao left no stone unturned to secure Centre’s permission for the two inland river routes.

Five decades ago, lounge boats transported passengers and goods between Bhadrachalam and Rajahmundry through River Godavari. The boat set out at 7 am at Bhadrachalam used to reach the destination after a 10-hour journey and the boat operators would take care of breakfast and lunch for passengers. They charged anything between Rs 3 and 5 per head for the journey.

The lounge boat services were operated between Chinturu-Rajahmundry, Kunta-Rajahmundry, Kunavaram-Rajahmundry, Bhadrachalam-Dummugudem and Dummugudem-Venkatapuram. Dummugudem stands as a testimony to the erstwhile inland waterways. Canals at Dummugudem remind us of the erstwhile lounge boat services operated in the yore.

The services initially were operated with a single engine, but over a period they had two engines. Essential commodities, including petrol, diesel and other goods were transported through inland waterways.

Similarly, timber and other forest produce would be transported from Agency areas to Rajahmundry by traders. In 2014, the Centre has set its sight on development of inland waterways in Telugu states. It decided to develop tourism and transport services with the help of inland waterways.

In this regard, the Centre facilitated boat services on Bhadrachalam-Kukkunuru-Rajahmundry (171 km), Rajahmundry-Eluru (74 km) and Eluru-Vijayawada (65 km) routes giving green signal to river transport. The Centre is keen on accelerating the works related to promote inland waterways.

While the river transport is cheaper, it will improve the job prospects of people. Tourism will be developed netting additional revenue to the government.

It may be recalled that a survey on development of inland waterways was conducted during 2013 spending Rs 1 crore.