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Updated: March 19, 2013 01:05 IST

Kochi Metro may forge a French connection

Staff Reporter
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PLAN PERUSAL: Kochi Metro Rail officials explain the salient points of the phase two expansion of Vyttila Mobility Hub to representatives of French financial agency AFD in Kochi on Monday. - Photo: K.K. Mustafah
The Hindu PLAN PERUSAL: Kochi Metro Rail officials explain the salient points of the phase two expansion of Vyttila Mobility Hub to representatives of French financial agency AFD in Kochi on Monday. - Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Representatives of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), a French financial agency, were all ears as they stopped by at busy hubs along the 25-km-long Aluva-Vyttila alignment of Kochi Metro on Monday.

The mass rapid transport system will integrate with waterway transport at Vyttila and Edappally.

Aimed at ensuring funds on time for the Rs.5,182-crore Kochi Metro Rail project, steps are afoot to secure the loan, which works out to Rs.2,170 crore (about 42 per cent of the total project cost).

The team’s pre-appraisal mission is part of this. The rest of the cost will be shared by the State and Central governments.

The AFD team’s visit comes a few months after visits by representatives of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), an agency which extends loans at 1.4 per cent interest to developing countries. The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is probing alternative funding options, reportedly because the JICA loan may take about a year to materialise. AFD is the main implementing agency for France’s official development assistance to developing countries and overseas territories.

The two-member team visiting the city comprises Aude Flogny, the South Asia regional director, and Gautier Kohler, project coordinator-India of the agency. Officials of KMRL and the Vyttila Mobility Hub Society (VMHS) explained to them how bus and boat commuters will be able to hop on to the Metro from the two commuting modes at the two extremely-busy points.

The KMRL team led by Project Director Mahesh Kumar and C.P. Balamurugan, assistant executive engineer of VMHS, took the French team through the salient points of phase two expansion of the Vyttila Mobility Hub, for which tenders will be invited in the coming months. The AFD representatives snapped photos of the sites where the metro station has been integrated with the design of the proposed mega bus terminal at the hub. They also visited the site of the boat jetty which is expected to be commissioned by April.

The officials told them about how the metro’s alignment at Vyttila was changed to ensure that it was located at the multi-modal hub, instead of at the junction. The visiting team probed details like whether the phase two development plans of the hub has the State government’s nod. They found the inter-modal concept “very interesting”. They will hold another level of discussions with KMRL officials on Tuesday.

In most other places along the Metro’s alignment, steps are afoot to relocate bus stops to places near Metro stations and to create parking space for vehicles at major junctions. This is to ensure that commuters benefit the most from the metro, by reducing their dependence on private vehicles and buses.

The team also visited the sites for Metro stations proposed at Aluva, Edappally, Kaloor international stadium, South railway station and Pettah. The KMRL might obtain a loan from HUDCO if there is delay in the State government pooling in with its share of the project cost. This will be used mainly for land acquisition.

Sreedharan visits city

E. Sreedharan, Principal Advisor of DMRC, inspected the North and Salim Rajan overbridges on Monday.

The four-laning of North bridge is expected to be over by the year-end, while Salim Rajan bridge will be ready by mid-April. He also went through the paper work and allied matters of Kochi Metro at DMRC’s Kochi office.

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