Efforts on to convert VMH Society into company

The second phase development of the Vyttila Mobility Hub is estimated to cost ₹590 crore.

The second phase development of the Vyttila Mobility Hub is estimated to cost ₹590 crore.

The efforts being made to reconstitute Vyttila Mobility Hub Society (VMHS) as a company to catalyse the second-phase development of the hub has been welcomed, even as sceptics say the estimate of approximately ₹590 crore for the project could be lessened to a “realistic level”.

In addition, utmost priority ought to be given to seamlessly integrating/redrawing the hub’s entry and exit with Vyttila Junction, by working in tandem with the Public Works Department (PWD), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and the Kochi Corporation, they say. There is widespread criticism that the hub looks more like a standalone project than one which is in sync with the city’s road infrastructure.

An independent company like Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) will help in speedy decision-making and availing of soft loans from international agencies, sources said. French external development assistance agency AFD, which had given a soft loan for the completion of the Kochi metro’s phase one work and has extended further loan for its Kakkanad extension, has already offered loan for further development initiatives at the hub.

There is all-round interest in the hub’s development, since the metro station, water metro ferry, and the bus terminal are all located within its 26-acre premises. The inordinate delay of over 12 years in finalising the second phase development work had invited considerable flak owing to alleged apathy in tapping its potential as a multi-modal transport hub and also because Vyttila is the biggest junction in the State.

While preferring anonymity, stakeholders who were associated with the hub’s development said investment worth ₹590 crore on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode seems to be a little far-fetched. “Project consultants ought to arrive at a lesser, more realistic figure, since adequate revenue ought to be realised during the first five years or so, following which the loan repayment process will kick in. It is thus imperative that decision-makers take a relook at the feasibility study,” they say.

Lessons must also be learnt from the flawed commercial development of the KSRTC bus terminals across the State, they add.

However, D. Dhanuraj of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a city-based think tank, termed the ₹590-crore project as the need of the hour, since much of the 26 acres was lying underutilised. “Decision-makers ought to take a cue from the success saga of CIAL which too was a PPP venture. A detailed and futuristic study and development plan are needed on how the land can be monetised in a sustainable manner. As per current trends, investment in, among others, a shopping mall looks promising, rather than in a shopping complex.”

Architects and planners of international repute ought to be roped in from the planning stage, while investors must be given a free hand in choosing the components of the second phase. For this, the terms of reference must be futuristic. The hub’s integration with the second phase development of Vyttila Junction and the setting apart of open/green spaces in the premises too are crucial, he said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 8:33:02 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/efforts-on-to-convert-vmh-society-into-company/article38355872.ece