Merchants’ union, NH action forum pitch in with support

As the confusion over the role of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in the Kochi metro project continues, the Kochi Corporation has come out with support for the agency and DMRC’s principal adviser E. Sreedharan for implementing the project.

The civic body has sought the intervention of the Union Ministry of Urban Development to hand over the implementation of the Kochi metro project to the DMRC.

Mayor Tony Chammany wrote a letter to Union Minister for Urban Development Kamalnath urging him to “heed the overwhelming demand from the public to hand over the implementation of the Kochi metro rail project to DMRC”.

The Kochi metro is a long-cherished dream of the people of the city. The government of Kerala and the people of Kochi want the DMRC to take over the work which is linked to the growth and development of the city, the letter said.

The DMRC, under the leadership of E .Sreedharan, had taken up many ambitious projects in the country. Their ability to coordinate, lead and complete the projects within the timeframe has made them the favourites for implementing the Kochi project, the letter said.

Kochi being the most densely populated city in Kerala, traffic control through road expansion is next to impossible. The development of the metro rail is the only solution for meeting the growing transportation demands and enhancing the economic growth of the urban centre, the letter said.

The recent director board meeting of the Kochi Metro Rail Project, Mr. Chammany pointed out, had said that the sanction of the director board of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation was required to take up the work of the Kochi metro.

Earlier also, the civic body had reposed faith in the DMRC. The agency was also involved in the development of the infrastructure projects implemented in the city as part of the preparatory works for the metro.

This included the widening of the North Overbridge and construction of the flyover at Salim Rajan Road. According to indications, the first phase of the widening of the north overbridge would be completed ahead of schedule.

Amidst continuing uncertainties and delay on the part of the government to take a clear, organisations from various quarters have raised their demands to entrust the work to the DMRC and have Mr. Sreedharan at the helm of implementing project.

Nexus suspected

Meanwhile, in a press release issued here, the Kerala Merchants’ Union expressed doubts whether the unholy nexus between officials and politicians was behind the delay in the commissioning of metro rail’s work, which was mooted first in 2001, declared in 2004, with the Prime Minister laying the foundation stone in 2012.

The project, which was initially expected to cost Rs. 2,500 crore, is at present at Rs. 5,500 crore and delay is escalating the cost at the rate of Rs. 40 lakh every day. If the State government delays its decision to entrust the work to the DMRC under the guidance of Mr. Sreedharan, protest measures will be taken up along with like-minded organisations, said the press release signed by K.A. Shaji, general secretary of the union.

In another press release, the State executive committee of the NH:17-47 Joint Action Council alleged that a BOT-mafia interested in getting commissions was behind the move to keep Mr. Sreedharan out of the project.

The council also alleged that Tom Jose, Principal Secretary (PWD) and former managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited, was behind imposing BOT-toll conditions on many stretches of national highways in the State.

This has happened despite the all-party meeting and Cabinet deciding to exempt the State from toll given its peculiar geographical characteristics and later presenting a memorandum to the Prime Minister. His decisions related to the Kochi Metro Rail project were also suspicious and a vigilance probe should be initiated against him, the council demanded.

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