Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoped that Kochi would evolve as "a very important economic and logistical hub" of the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoped that Kochi would evolve as “a very important economic and logistical hub” of the country.

Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Kochi metro rail project at Ernakulam Marine Drive on Thursday, Mr. Singh said that the city had emerged as one of the most important ports of the county with the International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam becoming operational.

The Prime Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the laying of the foundation stone in the presence of Union Ministers A.K. Antony, K.C. Venugopal, E. Ahamed, Vayalar Ravi, Mullapally Ramachandran, K.V. Thomas Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, State Minister Aryadan Muhammad and the Kerala governor H.R. Bharadwaj.

The Central government has sanctioned six projects for Kochi under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission with a total cost of over Rs. 509 crore. The central share for these projects would be more than Rs. 254 crore. The Urban development Ministry has sanctioned 200 low floor buses for Kochi, he said.

Mr. Singh pointed out that the transport infrastructure of the city was “under severe stress, with the demand for travel rising steeply in recent years.

The Metro would provide Kochi with a modern mass transport system, making it convenient for the residents to commute and also facilitating Kochi’s overall social and economic development,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, the State government was doing everything possible for the development of Kochi which “has a proud history.” The United Progressive Alliance government has supported and added to these efforts of the state government and it will continue to do so in future as well, he said.

Mr. Singh hoped that the “Kochi Metro Rail Corporation, a joint venture company of the Central and State governments, will build the Metro efficiently, and produce a rail network of the highest quality in the quickest possible time.” He also stated that with the “important projects being planned and implemented in and around the city,” the future will see Kochi as one of the best urban centres of the world.

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