Sources associated with the Kochi Metro said though JICA offers loans at a low interest rate of 1.50 per cent, one could never predict the changes in conversion rate of the Yen

The Director Board of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) will entrust its MD Elias George with the task of probing more funding options for Kochi Metro Rail.

“Even as we explore other alternatives, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will support the project,” Kerala’s Chief Secretary Jose Cyriac told reporters, following a board meeting here on Tuesday. Obtaining loan is a risk and we cannot put all eggs in one basket. Generally, a consortium (of financial agencies) is formed, like for the Bangalore Metro, he said.

Sources associated with the Kochi Metro said though JICA offers loans at a low interest rate of 1.50 per cent, one could never predict the changes in conversion rate of the Yen (Japanese currency). The original plan was to avail Rs 2,174 crore or 44 per cent of the project cost of Rs 5,182 crore from JICA. The State and the central governments would contribute the rest.

The quantum of loan will marginally increase because eight more hectares will be acquired for the metro, in addition to the 32 hectares planned initially. World wide, funding is available at low interest rates. Within India, agencies like the HUDCO were keen to fund such projects, they said.

DMRC’s role

Referring to the delay in filing a report about the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) scale of involvement in the project, Mr Cyriac said "the terms of engagement (about the involvement) had to be done carefully. The drafts are ready. Once it is finalised, we can proceed by convening an emergency board meeting or even without a meeting. We are confident of sorting out the issue. No time limit has been fixed (for the committee led by Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna and having the Chief Secretaries of New Delhi and Kerala as members) to decide on the scale of DMRC’s involvement in metro). But its report will be ready in the coming days or weeks."

To a question on the JICA team’s keenness to integrate different modes of transport under a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), he said emphasis would be given to transit-oriented development since metro rail would contribute to an all-round development (of the city and its suburbs). The involvement of all civic and transportation stakeholders was important, he said.

Mr Sudhir Krishna said Kochi Corporation, GCDA and nearby municipalities must extend all help for metro rail project.

Land acquisition

He said the JICA team that visited Kochi a week ago were interested in the metro rail’s environment impact assessment and rehabilitation. “Land acquisition for the project has to be speeded up. Today’s board meeting also discussed the proposed revision of the metro rail’s DPR.”

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