Project to be completed in three years
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave the green signal for the Rs.5,128-crore Kochi Metro Rail project, one of the largest social infrastructure initiatives to be launched in the State in recent years.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who made a formal announcement of the Cabinet decision in New Delhi, said the project would be completed in three years. The most significant part of the approval is that the Kochi metro project would be implemented on the Chennai model, envisaging a joint venture by the Central and State governments, with each chipping in with a share of 15 per cent. The 25.6-km-long rail project would have 22 stations connecting Aluva to Thripunithura, in what is termed as a seamless integration of rail, road, and waterway transportation modes. Steps have already been initiated to secure a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the tune of Rs.2,170 crore, but this would gather steam only after the tripartite agreement between the Union Urban Development Ministry, State government, and Kochi Metro Rail Ltd is initialled.
The State government has already started the preparatory work under the aegis of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL), established by it as a special purpose vehicle. Against the backdrop of the Cabinet clearance, the director board of KMRL would be reconstituted with five nominees each of the Central and State government. The Secretary of the Union Urban Development Ministry will be the chairman of the reconstituted company, while the Kerala government nominee would be its Managing Director, a position which is now being held by Tom Jose. Land acquisition work is going on in full swing, while construction of the North overbridge is in an advanced stage.
The then Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the project proposals put up by the Union Urban Development Ministry last month, bringing the year-long effort of the State government and KMRL to get early sanction for the project to the final stages. Mr. Jose told The Hindu that the unique selling point of the Kochi metro would be its seamless integration of various modes of transportation – rail, road, and water. “We will sit down with our valued partner, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, and chalk out the way forward, with the advice and guidance of Dr. E Sreedharan,” he said.