Kochi

Metro rail: DMRC demands prompthanding over of land, funds

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) would complete the Kochi Metro Rail project in three years, provided the requisite land and funds are handed over to it on time, a senior official in the agency said.

While the State government has to hasten the land acquisition process (which is yet to begin), both governments would have to streamline the flow of funds. This is to avoid any time lag from the day the Centre gives its nod, which is expected to happen within three weeks. The Public Investment Board had on Thursday given its green signal to implement the Kochi Metro Rail project on the lines of the Chennai Metro.

Professional manner

The professional manner in which the DMRC is executing the metro's preliminary works is evident from the steady progress of works for widening the North overbridge, two lines of which are expected to be ready by August, a month before the deadline.

“The Salim Rajan Road-MG Road overbridge that would enhance east-west connectivity would be thrown open to traffic in another ten months,” sources said. Aimed at preventing delays and subsequent cost escalation, the agency has also awarded the contract to widen the Ernakulam Town Hall-Madhava Pharmacy Junction stretch, despite delay in obtaining land from the Revenue Department.

The DMRC has expressed confidence that it would begin civil works for the metro-rail within two months of the project once it gets the Central nod. The levelling of land in Muttom near Aluva for the coach-maintenance yard would be taken up first, followed by works to erect the pillars for the elevated rails in the Aluva-Palarivattom stretch. This is because the road is sufficiently wide and the metro can ply over the road's alignment. Simultaneously, work on the pillars would be carried out at other stretches where land is available.

“We are readying paper works for the different aspects of the project. But we cannot incur any expenditure since the project is awaiting the Centre's formal approval. This is because we must account for all the expenses,” sources in the agency said.

They expressed concern at the inordinate delay by the Revenue Department in acquiring land.

“An example is the delay in acquiring land from Jos Junction to the Ernakulam Junction Railway Station, for which the notification was published over two years ago.”

They added that vested interests are trying to shift the location of a few metro stations from the designated areas. Such unwanted interferences might affect the pace of the project.

Budgetary allocation

Reacting to the PIB clearance for the Kochi metro, former Union Urban Development Secretary M. Ramachandran said that the minutes of the meeting would be forwarded to the Union Cabinet, which generally takes a decision within three weeks.

“The allocation of funds (Rs. 60 crore) in the Union Budget has made it all the more easy for the project to take off. Fresh allocation of funds would be tough once the budget is presented.”

He added that a new Centre-State joint venture corporation would be constituted to oversee the metro's works once the project gets the final Cabinet nod. “Both the State and the Centre would be equally represented in the set up. Generally, the Centre would appoint the firm's Chairman and the State, the managing director.”

Major leap

The PIB's nod is seen as a major leap ahead for the system of mass rapid transport that was mooted over the 25-km-long arterial stretch from Aluva to Pettah through MG Road.

A team of officials led by the managing director of KMRL, Tom Jose, made frequent trips to New Delhi to clarify points raised by Central ministries and agencies, and to hasten the PIB's decision. “The project has crossed yet another milestone. We are very satisfied with the result of the PIB meeting. They were convinced with our proposals,” said Mr. Jose.


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 11:54:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/metro-rail-dmrc-demands-prompthanding-over-of-land-funds/article3219584.ece

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