Kochi Metro Rail To Be Up And Running By 2016

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   (2012-07-04 00:00:00)

With the Centre giving its clearance for the Rs.5,182 crore metro rail project, the Kochi metro is expected to be running by 2016 in the Aluva-MG Road-Pettah corridor, covering a distance of 25 km.

The work was scheduled to begin in 2006, so as to commission the project by 2010. But procedural and political wrangles delayed the Union Cabinet’s nod for the project.

Central agencies expressed their doubts about the financial viability of the project, since Kochi did not qualify as a metropolitan city because it did not have a population of over 10 lakh. This was resolved after the then State government convinced the agencies about how the metro rail would benefit people living in the suburban municipalities and those coming to the city for work from nearby districts.

Long road

The previous LDF government wanted the project to be executed on the lines of the Delhi and Chennai metros — as a Centre-State joint venture, without private participation. This was because the private participant would have sought vast tracts of land from the government to raise capital for the project. Still, the Planning Commission wanted the project to be executed as a public-private-partnership (PPP) initiative. Though the UDF government came to power in the State in 2011, the Central nod for the project seemed elusive. But the Planning Commission toned down its initial stand and said that the issue of PPP was best left to the State government to decide.

Faced with widespread opposition to a PPP, including from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan, the State government decided to stick to a Centre-State JV scheme, on the lines of the Chennai metro. The State Cabinet formed the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL) as the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the project in 2011, to coordinate with Central and State agencies. Following this, the KMRL submitted the revised DPR after revising the project cost from the Rs.2,239 crore proposed in 2005 to Rs.5,181 crore. The Centre’s expected share in the project is Rs.1,002.23 crore (approximately 19.3% of total project cost), while the State’s share is Rs.2,009.56 crore (approximately 38.7%) and the loan from JICA – Rs.2,170 crore (about 42%).

Trains with three coaches are expected to ply initially. The total cost per km (including civil works, coaches, signals, stations etc.) is expected to be Rs.202.31 crore.

Sources in the agency said that over 32 hectares will have to be acquired for constructing the coach-maintenance depot at Muttom near Aluva, the 22 metro stations and to widen the roads.

Sources in the KMRL said that they obtained requisite approvals from Central agencies within a record time of nine months after submitting the revised DPR.