India's newest state capital Amaravati will get an underwater tunnel in river Krishna, about three-km long, for vehicular traffic if the state government has its way. The detailed master plan for the upcoming capital envisages a transparent road tunnel from beneath the river connecting the administrative capital with Vijayawada, the commercial hub of Andhra Pradesh.
Once completed, it will be the first ever underwater road tunnel in the country. There are about 200 such tunnels around the world. The designers from Singapore have included the under-river tunnel in the detailed master plan for Amaravati which was released late on Saturday night.
The tunnel, which the AP government plans to project as a major tourist attraction, will come up near Ibrahimpatnam on the outskirts of Vijayawada. The backwaters of the Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada extend up to Ferry village near Ibrahimpatnam. Since the proposed tunnel is transparent, motorists using it can see aquatic life.
The underwater tunnel project was included in the detailed master plan following the advice of chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. The capital city core area will be linked to river bank on the Vijayawada side.
Incidentally, the Union shipping ministry recently launched a feasibility study on two such tunnels. While one of the tunnels connects Kakdwip and Sagar Island in West Bengal, the other links Chatham and Bamboo Flat in Andaman Nicobar islands.
The Centre has already handed over the task of studying the projects to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL). Subsequently, NHIDCL has called for tenders from consultants to prepare the techno-economic study of both the tunnel stretches.
The AP government will soon approach the Centre seeking approval for the tunnel in the river Krishna. Officials argue that an underwater tunnel costs less than an overbridge. "The underwater tunnel will be an instant hit with tourists. Even if the project costs a little more, we will go ahead with it. The state will earn considerable revenue from tourists," said a senior planner in the AP Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA).
The detailed master plan proposes the underwater tunnel to the "west side" of the government core area where Assembly, Secretariat and Raj Bhavan would come up. The master plan also proposes a `gigantic' giant wheel on the riverbank to give the capital city a `distinct identity'. The giant wheel will function round the clock to attract tourists.