RITES to decide on most feasible alignment for extension

The Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) is expected to take a call on the most feasible alignment for Kochi Metro’s Tripunithura extension on December 18. A decision will be taken on whether to extend the Metro up to Tripunithura in the project’s first phase on the day.

There is a suggestion that the Metro could be extended eastward from Pettah [the present terminal station], so that it enters Tripunithura through Gandhi Square and the mini-bypass. Stakeholders such as DMRC and the apex council of residents’ associations have objected to this plan. They say the proposal will complicate matters and increase the project cost.

They want the earlier proposal to extend the metro from Pettah to the vacant space owned by SAIL or even Milma, beside the overbridge north of S.N. Junction, to be considered.

Convenor of Tripunithura Rajanagari Union of Residents’ Associations Jayendran V.C. said land acquisition would be minimal on the Pettah-North Fort Junction stretch.

“More land will have to be acquired on only a 100-metre portion towards S.N. Junction. The original proposal has many advantages. The SAIL land is just over a kilometre from Pettah. Diverting the Metro through Gandhi Square will double the distance.”

The new proposal will further increase the project cost [which works to over Rs.200 crore per km] and cost of land acquisition. “The mini bypass and adjacent roads are too narrow and have plenty of sharp turns, as compared to the straight road through S.N. Junction,” Mr Jayendran said.

He said setting up the terminal station on SAIL land would allow seamless integration of the Metro with the adjacent railway station and the bus stand proposed nearby.

DMRC sources said the new proposal was illogical and would steeply increase the project cost. “The move will also delay Central clearance for the extension.”

They called for swift decision on extending the Metro up to Tripunithura, in the project’s first phase. Any delay would scuttle the proposal as the Model Code of Conduct for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will take effect early next year.

Allegations are rife that the new proposal was put forward taking into consideration the delimitation of constituencies.

RITES report

RITES was entrusted with preparing a feasibility study on the Metro’s Tripunithura extension a few months ago. It was widely held that commuters from Tripunithura would increase the Metro’s passenger patronage. On Wednesday, the agency would make a presentation on the extent of land that has to be acquired in both routes and the expected passenger patronage.

“We had a few rounds of discussions with the RITES team and more will follow,” KMRL sources said. The State Cabinet will have to give its nod for the Tripunithura extension, following which the Empowered Group of Ministers in the Urban Development Ministry headed by A.K. Antony will take a call, they said.

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