Friday, August 29, 2008

Kochi Metro may finally see light of day

The Planning Commission has convened an inter-departmental meeting here Friday to discuss a delayed Metro rail project in Kerala, a senior government official said.

The project, slated to come up in Kochi, has seen no effective progress since 2006, when the work was to start.

'The meeting will discuss, among other things, the funding part of the project,' urban development secretary M. Ramachandran told IANS.

'We hope the meeting will help the project to take off. There is no point in delaying the project any longer,' added Ramachandran.

Friday's meeting is scheduled to be attended by top officials from the ministry of urban development and finance, apart from the plan panel, which has to sanction the outlay.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation -, the consultant and implementing agency for the Kochi Metro, submitted the project report way back in July 2005.

If approved, Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala, will become the second southern city after Bangalore where Metro services will begin in a few years. The Bangalore project is scheduled to be completed by 2011.

Had the work started as per schedule in 2006, Metro trains would have started chugging in Kochi by 2009.

Delhi and Kolkata are the only cities in India where Metro rail services are already operational.

The estimated cost of the 25-km long Kochi Metro project is around at Rs.3,000 crore -, with the state and the centre each putting up 15 percent of the outlay.

Ramachandran said the remaining will be funded through loans from financial institutions.

The state government is keen to get the project funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation -, which has funded Delhi's Metro project as well.

A section of traders and businessmen have objected to the Kochi Metro's scheduled route along the city's arterial Mahatma Gandhi Road.

But Ramachandran said it was too late to draw up a fresh route.

'The alignment change is not feasible. It will further delay the project and cost will also shoot up,' he added.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kochi Metro Rail Project hanging fire

The recent high-level official talks between the Kerala government and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have once again infused hope for starting the proposed elevated Metro Rail Project for Kochi, which has been hanging fire for the past two years for various reasons.

The enthusiasm of the government and DMRC notwithstanding, numerous bottlenecks plague the project, which was expected to be an answer to the severe traffic congestion in the city, the commercial hub of the state.

The recent review of preliminary work on the project by the secretary in the Union Urban Development ministry, M Ramachandran and assertion of Ernakulam District collector, Dr M Beena, that land acquisition process will continue, despite protests from some businessmen on the project alignment, has again shown that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The project, which would have changed the face of Kochi, ran into trouble right from the beginning as some businessmen protested against the scheduled route of the metro line through the arterial Mahatma Gandhi road.

Ramachandran had then pointed out that a change of alignment was not feasible since it would steeply escalate the cost and further delay the project.

If work on the project had started in 2006, it would have been ready by 2009 at a cost of Rs 2,239 crore.

The DMRC had submitted a detailed project report in July 2005, envisaging a 25.253 km railway line connecting nearby Aluva and Pettah in the first stage and extending it to Tripunithura in the second phase.


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