Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the much-awaited Kochi Metro in Kerala
Kochi,June17:Prime Minister Narendra Modi is today in Kerala where he will inaugurate the much-awaited Kochi Metro at around 10.30 am.
Modi will take a ride on the metro along with Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
Other officials and dignitaries that will accompany Modi include Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gouba, Kerala Chief Secretary Nalini Netto and and KMRL MD Elias George. ‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan, who was earlier reported to have not been given a seat on the dais, will be present as well.
Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday flagged off the Kochi Metro, Kerala’s first Metro rail, and took an inaugural ride onboard the train with dignitaries, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan.
PM Modi cut the ribbon of the much-awaited project at Palarivattom station and after the inaugural ride was scheduled to proceed to the JLN Stadium in Kaloor for a public event.
Claimed to be the country’s first integrated multi-model transport system, the Metro is expected to improve regional connectivity and ease the traffic congestion in Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala. The first phase comprises a 13-km stretch between Aluva and Palarivattom.
ALSO READ | All You Need to Know About the Kochi Metro
Kochi Metro officials said introduction of a world-class metro system in Kochi would enhance the quality of life for the Greater Kochi metro area by improving regional connectivity and reducing overcrowding, traffic congestion, transit time, air and noise pollution. They said by being the first metro system in the country with an integrated multi-model transport system, Kochi Metro will not only give the city a much required face-lift but also provide end-to-end connectivity.
A unique aspect of metro stations will be the deployment of members of Kudumbashree — the women empowerment-oriented, community-based self-help group project of the Kerala government — for managing the station operations. Kudumbashree will provide a vast array of services from customer relations, crowd management, housekeeping and catering services, which once operational, will be the largest crew of women to be employed by any city.
Besides, every Metro station has been designed on a specific theme around Kerala culture and geography. KMRL has also included the transgender community in its operations along with Kudumbashree, thus becoming the first organisation to appoint transgenders as per the state government’s policy.
“We are really proud of our social initiatives. This is probably the first infrastructure project which has brought in Kudumbashree. We have employed around 1,000 women from the disadvantaged sections. They have been employed in ticketing, housekeeping, parking, gardening and customer care. We have focused on women employment in all sectors of the Metro, including technical,” KMRL MD Elias George told CNN-News18 before the inauguration.
George also stressed on the eco-friendly aspects of the project. Around 25% of the energy needs will be met by solar power, he said. Besides, the pillars of the Metro line will also be converted into vertical gardens and will use recycled municipal waste.
The event was earlier mired in controversy with Sreedharan’s name left out of the guest list. Public uproar forced the state government to write to the PMO again, following which Sreedharan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala were invited.
Sreedharan, the principal advisor of DMRC and the main driving force behind the Metro, said the addition will change “social attitudes”. “A lot of discipline is required while using the Metro. We have to maintain orderliness and cleanliness. It will change the social attitude of the people and bring a new living culture,” he told CNN-News18.
He also recalled the challenges faced while executing the project. Primary concerns were rainfall and narrow roads, he said. “If we had taken over these roads for construction, people would have been inconvenienced. So we had to do most of the work at night. This was not the case with other cities where we carried out the work during the day. Here, more than 80% of the work was done at night.”
The deliberations for the Metro first began in 1996 and plans were approved by the state government in 2008. Central permissions, however, proved a stumbling block — the state government wanted a Public-Private Partnership model but the central government had wanted a Centre-State partnership.
Finally in 2012, the Centre gave a go-ahead and then prime minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone on September 13, 2012.
PM Modi will inaugurate the 13-kilometer section of Kochi Metro from the Palarivattom station. Modi will reach the station at 10.35 am and will board a Metro train after cutting a ribbon.
Following the train ride, Modi and other officials will head to the JLN Stadium in Kaloor where a public event has been scheduled.
Yogesh Saini and Sumit Kumar have been chosen as the train operator’s for PM Modi’s journey. Pawan Kumar and Anil Kumar will also be present in the driver’s cabin to support Yogesh and Sumit.
The Kochi Metro will begin revenue operations from Monday, from 6 am onward. Trains will run between Aluva and Palarivattom at intervals of eight minutes and 20 seconds and there will be a total of 219 trips in a day.
The Metro will begin operations every day at 6 am, with the day’s last ride finishing its trip at 10 pm. A single trip can carry 975 passengers.
Modi is inaugurating a 13-km section of the Kochi Metro Phase 1, which runs for 25 kilometers. Work on the remaining section is still underway. Once completed, the phase 1 will cover 22 stations.
Work on the over Rs 5000-crore Kochi Metro began in 2013 after the Chandy government entrusted the project to Delhi Metro Rail Corp, with its principal advisor E Sreedharan overseeing it.
Kochi Metro is India eighth metro service and earlier this month, in an exclusive interview to India Today, E Sreedharan called it his life’s most challenging project. “Kochi has been a different environment; the operating costs were very high, apart from this the material and man power is costly,” Sreedharan had said.
A unique feature of the Kochi Metro will be its connectivity with speed boats for feeder services. “Integration of modes of transport is a must, credit of water metro goes to KMRL. All modes of transport will have a unified ticket,” Sreedharan had said in his India Today interview, adding “With the launch of metro train, Kochi will be the first city with fully integrated public transport system. It will be a great convenience for the people and a model for other cities to replicate.”
Kochi Metro has also employed 23 members from the transgender community, who will be involved in everything from ticketing to housekeeping. In a May 11 report in The Hindu, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited’s MD had said that the metro had become the first government-owned company in India “to formally appoint them (transgenders)”.