When it comes to infrastructure development, Kerala stands at the forefront among all Indian states. Its remarkable progress extends across various domains, encompassing top-notch road networks, efficient water transportation, well-connected aviation systems, robust communication networks, and widespread internet access. This article offers a detailed examination of Kerala’s infrastructure, highlighting its achievements, challenges, and future prospects.
Transportation: A Backbone of Connectivity
The state’s transportation network, which includes an extensive road system, plays a pivotal role in facilitating connectivity between urban and rural areas. Kerala boasts a well-maintained road infrastructure spanning 2,30,934.18 kilometers, encompassing classified and non-classified roads. Remarkably, Kerala achieves a road density of 548 kilometers per 100 square kilometers—nearly three times the national average. Notably, 90% of Kerala’s road network consists of single-lane roads. Among these, national highways form a vital network, handling 40% of total traffic, while the secondary network, comprising state highways and major district roads, caters to the remaining 40%. Kerala’s road network includes 11 national highways, extending over 1,781.36 kilometers.
Road Traffic Statistics
As of March 2022, Kerala has registered a staggering 155.65 lakh motor vehicles. This translates to 466 vehicles per thousand people. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), a leading public transport provider, serves both urban and rural areas, employing more than 26,000 individuals and maintaining a fleet of over 2,500 buses.
The Railways Advancement
Kerala’s railway network stretches across 1,745 kilometers, encompassing 99 mail/express trains, 60 passenger trains, and 64 freight trains under the Palakkad division. Additionally, the Thiruvananthapuram division manages 170 mail/express/passenger trains and 8 freight trains, covering 623 kilometers of tracks. The state boasts a total of 200 railway stations distributed between these two divisions. Upgradation efforts are underway to convert existing railway lines to broad gauge, with ongoing electrification and doubling works at various locations.
Kochi Metro Rail Project
Kochi Metro Rail Project stands as a vital initiative by the Kerala government, aimed at addressing traffic congestion in Kochi city. Managed by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), a joint venture of the Union and State Governments, Phase I (Blue Line) of the project spans 25.2 kilometers, connecting Aluva and Petta. Commissioned in June 2017 at a cost of Rs 6,218.14 crore, this project has efficiently tackled traffic issues and even turned an operating profit within a short timeframe.
Air Transport Excellence
Cochin International Airport (CIAL)
Cochin International Airport (CIAL) has emerged as a beacon of air travel efficiency, boasting 56 check-in counters, 11 gates, and 7 aero bridges. By 2021, CIAL had achieved the status of India’s third-largest airport concerning international air traffic, serving 4.3 million passengers. In the financial year 2021-22, the airport recorded an impressive 17,546 international and 25,649 domestic services. Furthermore, the airport has consistently increased its passenger numbers, handling 22,31,256 international and 25,27,741 domestic passengers in 2021-22.
Kannur International Airport (KIAL)
Kannur International Airport (KIAL) has made significant strides in the aviation sector, handling 8,03,587 passengers in 2021-22, including 2,81,247 domestic and 5,22,340 international passengers. Moreover, during the 2022-23 period (up to September 2022), KIAL served 96,012 passengers, comprising 34,016 domestic and 61,996 international travelers. The airport also witnessed the handling of 1,787 MT (export) and 2,541 MT (import) cargo in 2022-23 (up to August 2022).
Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and Kozhikode International Airport
Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, Kerala’s first airport, ranks as the second busiest airport in the state and the fourteenth busiest in India. Kozhikode International Airport, which commenced operations in 1988 and gained international status in 2006, continues to serve as a vital gateway.
Ports of Kerala: Enhancing Trade and Commerce
Kerala’s coastline extends for approximately 585 kilometers, housing 2 major ports and 17 non-major ports, including Vizhinjam. These ports contribute significantly to the state’s trade activities, with the capacity to handle around 9000 lakh tonnes annually. Notable ports like Vizhinjam, Beypur-Kozhikode, Azhikal, and Kollam, classified as intermediate ports, play a crucial role in berthing, cargo handling, and storage facilities.
Kochi Port and Vizhinjam Port
Kochi Port, one of India’s major ports, strategically resides on two islands, Willington and Vallarpadam, and manages an impressive cargo traffic of 32.02 MMT (million metric tonnes) as of 2018-19. The impending completion of the Vizhinjam Port project is poised to transform Vizhinjam into a key hub for goods traffic, further enhancing trade in Kerala.
Watercraft and Inland Water Transport
In 2019-20, Kerala registered a total of 469 vessels in various ports. Notable among these are Vizhinjam (77), Kollam (128), Alappuzha (102), and Kodungallur (74), encompassing various vessel types such as passenger ships, speedboats, cargo ships, and more. Kerala’s inland water transport system, covering 1,687 kilometers, offers an alternative mode of transportation, connecting significant commercial hubs, ports, and tourist destinations.
Kochi Water Metro Project
Kochi Water Metro Project represents an ambitious endeavor to modernize water transport infrastructure across the Greater Kochi region. With 78 state-of-the-art electric hybrid boats connecting 10 islands through 38 terminals along 76.2 route kilometers, this project is set to transform transportation in the area. Notably, Germany-based KFW Bank and the Kerala government share the project’s funding.
The Energizing Force: Kerala’s Power Sector
Kerala has secured its position as India’s first state to electrify 100% of its homes, ensuring uninterrupted, 24/7 electricity without any power cuts. The Kerala State Electricity Board Limited oversees this feat, operating 37 hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 2058.76 MW, along with one wind farm (2.025 MW), two thermal power plants (159.96 MW), and solar installations (17.47 MW) at various locations.
Communications: Bridging Distances
Kerala’s Extensive Postal Network
Kerala stands as the sole Indian state where every village boasts at least one post office. With 5,063 post offices under the Kerala circle as of August 31, 2019, Kerala’s postal infrastructure ensures accessible postal services. Impressively, 82.82% of these post offices are situated in rural areas, emphasizing the commitment to equitable service distribution.
Phone and Internet Connectivity
Kerala surpasses the national average in tele density, boasting a teledensity of 128.93%. This figure translates to 45.72 million telephone subscribers, including 4,42,86,150 wireless subscribers. Moreover, Kerala’s internet infrastructure remains robust, with 27.44 million internet subscribers. The Kerala Fiber Optic Network (K-FON) initiative aims to provide affordable, high-speed internet access to government offices, educational institutions, and BPL (Below Poverty Line) families, making Kerala a pioneering state in this regard.
Ensuring Basic Needs: Clean Drinking Water and Secure Accommodation
Kerala’s Clean Drinking Water Endeavors
Kerala’s commitment to ensuring clean drinking water for all residents, irrespective of urban or rural distinctions, is evident through its public taps and home drinking water connections. Remarkably, Kerala has preserved public wells and ponds to provide access to clean drinking water, setting a noteworthy example for the nation.
Secure Accommodation: A Basic Right
In line with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, which recognizes food, shelter, and clothing as fundamental human needs, Kerala places a strong emphasis on secure housing. The state’s visionary Life Mission project is diligently working towards achieving the goal of providing every citizen with a proper dwelling. As of March 2023, the project has successfully completed 2,79,465 houses, ensuring that the dream of “a home for all” becomes a reality.
Safety and Security: A Top Priority
Amidst its remarkable infrastructure development, Kerala takes its residents’ safety and security seriously. The state prides itself on being one of the safest regions in India, with a police system that prioritizes the welfare and safety of all its citizens. Kerala’s friendly environment fosters an atmosphere where every individual can lead a secure life.