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Chennai Metro: Japan awaits nod to fund

Japan is awaiting a formal request of the Union government to fund the next phase of Chennai Metro Rail project, estimated to cost Rs. 85,047 crore, according to Kenji Hiramatsu, Japan’s Ambassador to India.

“On that basis, we are ready to look into the project in a very serious manner,” Mr. Hiramatsu told The Hindu on Friday, responding to a question whether the Central government had sounded Japan out on the proposal mooted by the Tamil Nadu government in the light of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s financial assistance for the first phase.

Earlier, the Ambassador along with Consul General Seiji Baba met Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami at the Secretariat.

3 corridors in Phase II

As part of the second phase of the Metro Rail project, three corridors — Madhavaram to Siruseri, Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus in Koyambedu to Light House in Triplicane and Madhavaram to Sholinganallur — have been proposed for a length of 107.55 km.

In the first phase, covering a distance of 45 km and costing Rs. 14,600 crore, two corridors — Washermenpet-Chennai Airport and Chennai Central Station-St Thomas Mount — were taken up.

Now, services are operated in the sections of Koyambedu-Alandur, Chennai Airport-Little Mount, Alandur-St Thomas Mount and Thirumangalam-Nehru Park, Purasawalkam, totaling 27.35 km.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the progress of implementation of the first phase of the Metro Rail project, Mr. Hiramatsu termed the project “very important” and replied, “I hope to see early completion of the project.”

[In September 2015, in an interview with this newspaper, Muneo Kuruachi, Chairman of the Standing Committee of Japan-India Business Cooperation Committee, had expressed concern over the slow pace of the execution of the project.]

Asked for his comment on the perception in certain quarters that the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) programme, whose master plan was drafted by the JICA, had not taken off, the Japanese Ambassador replied that work on some projects under the CBIC, such as industrial townships, had begun. “I include [Chennai] Metro Rail project as part of the CBIC.” He added that there was “rapid movement” under the programme.

Bullet train

On the status of a bullet-train project covering Mumbai and Ahmadabad, Mr. Hiramatsu said the project would be completed by 2023.

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