Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be requested to participate in the foundation stone-laying function for the Rs. 14,600-crore Chennai Metro Rail Project, M. Ramachandran, Union Urban Development Secretary and Chairman of the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), said on Friday. The CMRL is a special purpose vehicle floated by the State government to implement the project,

Dr. Ramachandran, who earlier met Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at the Secretariat, told reporters that in his discussion with the Chief Minister, he had suggested inviting Dr. Singh for the event and Mr. Karunanidhi approved of the idea. “We will work out the date in a couple of months,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister had inaugurated metro rail projects in other cities.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress of the project, the CMRL chief said work was under way to construct an elevated viaduct for 4.5 km from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar. The entire project would be completed by January 2015. Of the total length of 45 km, 24 km would be underground.

[Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin inaugurated the piling work for the viaduct construction in June. The project will have two corridors: Washermenpet to airport and Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount. Two stretches – Washermanpet to Saidapet and Central to Anna Nagar 2nd Avenue – will be underground].

Dr. Ramachandran said the Chennai Metro Rail project was larger than similar projects in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore in terms of size and cost. Referring to similar projects in other southern States, he said work in Bangalore was going on. Hyderabad was taking the private route. Kochi had sought the Centre’s approval for a similar project. The importance and relevance of metro rail had been fully understood and appreciated in the south, he said.

On the fare structure, he said in Delhi it was in the range of Rs. 6 to 20. Delhi had a three-member review committee, headed by a former judge. Issues such as periodicity and extent of revision were decided by the committee.

“The idea is that a larger number of common people should be able to afford to travel by the Metro. We cannot keep it [fare] at very high levels,” he said.

Asked about the demand to extend the project to Thiruvottriyur in the north, Dr. Ramachandran said the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had been entrusted with the task of preparing a report. It would be available in five months.

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