Kochi: Flagging off the first Kochi Metro projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said “Mass rapid transport is the need of the hour” and his government is committed to improve it.
The first phase of the project is 13.2 kilometers in length. The total stretch is 25 kilometers.
The prime minister, who began his speech in Malayalam, said he was happy to be part of the inauguration of the Kochi Metro. He also congratulated the people of Kochi on the proud moment.
“Thanks to France and Alstom, the company that made the train coaches. Coaches reflect ‘Make in India’ vision. They have been built by Alstom near Chennai, and have an Indian component of around 70 percent,” the prime minister said.
Dedicating the metro services to the people of Kochi, Prime Minister Modi also said that with the rising population in Kochi, the metro services will be very useful and helpful.
Describing Kochi as the “Queen of Arabian Sea”, Prime Minister Modi said it has become the hub of Kerala over the years.
Hailing the metro for giving chance to women and transgenders, Prime Minister Modi said 50 cities in the country were ready to take this route and the Union Government is committed to help them.
“Nearly 1000 women and 23 transgenders have been selected to work in the Kochi Metro rail system,” he added.
He said the government is focused on next generation infrastructure, which includes logistics, digital and gas.
Modi further said Kochi was selected as a Smart City in the first round of the challenge in January 2016.
“I hope it will do even better in the days to come,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that over the last three years, his government has placed special focus on overall infrastructural development of the nation.
“In Pragati meetings, I have personally reviewed nearly 175 projects worth more than Rs 8 lakh crore and resolved bottlenecks,” he said, referring to his ambitious multi-purpose and multi-modal platform PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation).
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu congratulated ‘Metro Man’ E. Sreedharan for the construction of the Kochi Metro in the fastest time of four years.
“Its 50-50 joint venture of Kerala government and the Government of India. Government of India released Rs. 2032.91 crore to Kochi Metro. I request the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd to expedite work,” Naidu said.
Naidu said “Kochi is a smart city because of its smart people.”
Naidu said Prime Minister Modi believes in ‘Team India’ concept and continues to focus on one thing – development. Irrespective of political affiliations, the state and Centre should work unitedly for development.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state needs a lot of development and cooperation.
Vijayan praised Sreedharan for the work done for the Kochi Metro and said timely completion of the Metro shows mega projects can be completed on time.
Prior to the official launch, Prime Minister Modi took a ride in the metro train from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam, and headed to the stadium for the inauguration, accompanied by a host of dignitaries including Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, Ernakulam MP K V Thomas and E Sreedharan.
The 13-km long stretch spans across Aluva and Palarivattom. KMRL has collaborated with Kudumbashree, the women empowerment-oriented self-help group initiated by the State Government.
Apart from a fleet of low-floor buses and autos plying as metro feeders, the KMRL has also roped in Kochi Water Metro, a water transport unit functioning as feeders for those living by the banks of the backwaters.
The rooftops of all stations have been set up with solar panels in order to generate power.
Apart from a special provision for wheelchairs, coaches have earmarked specially for people with disabilities. For such people and pregnant women, the Kochi metro comes fitted with cushioned seats. Also, there are multiple USB ports for commuters to charge their mobile phones on the go.
The minimum fare to ride in the Kochi Metro is capped at Rs 10, while an end-to-end ride, from Aluva and Palarivattom or vice-versa costs Rs 40.
Considered the fastest completed metro project in the country, Kochi Metro, the flagship transportation infrastructure project of Kerala, will start its regular operations from June 19.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation of the project on September 13, 2012 and the construction began in June, 2013 during the tenure of the previous Congress-led UDF government headed by Oommen Chandy, who was conspicuous by his absence on Saturday.
The estimated completion cost of the Kochi Metro is Rs 5,181.79 crore.