The State government will seek an explanation from Principal Secretary Tom Jose for writing to the Union Secretary for Urban Affairs enquiring about the locus standi of former Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) E. Sreedharan in executing the Kochi Metro Rail and monorail projects in Kerala.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after a Cabinet meeting on Monday that the Principle Secretary would be asked to explain the circumstances under which he had written the letter that raked up a controversy. He (Chief Minister) was not aware of the Principal Secretary having written the letter or having held discussions with companies in Singapore regarding execution of the rail project.
Mr. Chandy said the government had clear policies on engaging Mr. Sreedharan and the DMRC for the Kochi Metro Rail project. It had been decided even before Central clearance for the project that the DMRC would do the work with Mr. Sreedharan as adviser. This had been communicated to the Centre before and after the approval. All steps regarding the project were being done after taking Mr. Sreedharan into confidence.
He said Mr. Sreedharan was a member of the State Planning Board and was associated with planning the Kochi metro and monorail projects in the State. He had been taken into confidence regarding all aspects of the project.
However, as the Union Secretary had told the Director Board of Kochi Metro Rail Limited that the DMRC had come under some restrictions on taking up projects outside Delhi, he would communicate the State’s position to the Prime Minister and Union Minister for Urban Affairs next week. He would leave for New Delhi on October 28 in connection with a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan to commemorate cartoonist Kutty.
Talks with Sreedharan
He said that Minister for Transport Aryadan Mohammed and he would hold discussions would Mr. Sreedharan on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. He denied that the implementation of the Kochi metro project was slowing down.
Asked about the decision to bring monorail projects proposed in Thiruvananthapuram and the Kozhikode under the Public Works Department, Chief Minister said that it had been decided to have a single special purpose vehicle for both the projects. Accordingly, the Minister for Transport himself had proposed the formation of the vehicle with the Chief Minister as chairman.
On the travails of Air India Express passengers, the Chief Minister said the ‘hijack drama’ enacted at the Thiruvananthapuram airport last week amounted to gross cruelty to passengers. There had been no issue for two hours after the flight landed in Thiruvananthapuram. The passengers protested when they were told that they would not be flown to Kochi. Such a protest was only natural. However, it was portrayed as a hijack attempt. This was highly objectionable and cruel.
Mr. Chandy said the government had taken up various issues with Air India in the past, but there was little response. The airline was charging higher ticket rates to the Gulf than that for Europe. It was in view of the lack of response to its requests to Air India that the Kerala government proposed to form its own airlines.