Project will be commissioned in 1095 days, affirms CM at inauguration

“The Kochi Metro Rail project will be commissioned in 1,095 days and the countdown clock has begun ticking from today,” Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Friday.

He was speaking here after setting the civil works for the project rolling. The project’s executing agency — DMRC — will soon install digital countdown clocks at its city office and project sites.

DMRC’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan had said that DMRC could complete the project in three years if funds and land were made available on time.

A few thousands of people who came to witness the function at the international stadium in Kaloor gave a thunderous applause as the piling at a 200-metre-long barricaded stretch in Edapally was streamed live at the inaugural venue. A simulated audio-video presentation of a metro train zooming past landmarks in the 25-km-long Aluva-MG Road-Pettah corridor took the audience through how the metro will change the face of Kochi.

The works would go on without break for even a single day, Mr Chandy said.

Mono rails

The chief minister said the preliminary works for mono-rail projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode would begin by August. “The tender documents are ready and a consultancy agreement with DMRC will be inked within a week.”

In his address, Mr E. Sreedharan said tenders for the metro’s civil works had been finalised. “Tenders have been invited for signals and coaches. They will be finalised by December.” He called upon commuters to cooperate with traffic hassles if any, when civil works are on.

Safe, economical and comfortable transportation modes were critical for planned urbanisation since they hold the key to economic growth, said the Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna. “They are also social equalisers. In Kochi, the metro rail must be integrated with bus and boat transport.” He said 10,000 more low-floor buses would roll out in cities under the JNNURM scheme.

P. Rajeev, MP, who was on the forefront of the campaign for the metro rail, called for time-bound completion of the metro because there was already a nine-month delay in kick-starting the works after the Prime Minister laid its foundation stone in September 2012.

There were allegations that the delay occurred following attempts to keep DMRC away from the project. Mr. Rajeev highlighted the role played by the media and various organisations in speeding up the decision-making process. He called upon the railways to allot stop for more trains at Tripunithura and Kalamassery railway stations, since commuting to the city will be tough when metro works begin. “At least two more MEMU trains must operate from Kochi to decongest highways.” He also wanted the South overbridge widening works to be given to DMRC.

Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V Thomas called for extending the metro to major towns in Kochi’s suburbs.

The MD of KMRL, Elias George, said the agency’s employees will acquire requisite skills from DMRC (for extending the metro to towns in suburbs). KMRL would benefit from the revenue got from the commercial development of 17 acres of land at Kakkanad and the development of the metro village at Muttom, he said.

Mayor Tony Chammany demanded the introduction of feeder bus and boat services to metro stations.

DMRC’s Chief Engineer Keshav Chandran spoke of how 200-metre stretches would be barricaded for 75 days, for piling, building pillars and to launch girders. “One pile will be drilled per day. Traffic wardens will regulate vehicles. The slush from piling sites will be removed without affecting traffic. The wheels of vehicles leaving construction sites will be washed.”

To clear doubts lingering in the minds of people whether metro works will rob the city of its avenue trees, the answer came in the end. Tree saplings were given to everyone who attended the function.

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