Kochi Metro|Sreedharan terms Phase-II of Kochi Metro Rail project not feasible

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Kozhikode: The aspirations of the people of West Kochi for a Metro line will not  materialise  in the near future with the  Kochi Metro Rail Limited terming it as unviable. Concurring with the opinion of DMRC principal advisor E. Sreedharan, who has termed  phase II of the project as not feasible, KMRL authorities said the West Kochi line cannot be taken up due to economic  and technical reasons.

The plan prepared by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd for the second phase of the Kochi Metro project is not feasible, says E.Sreedharan, principal advisor to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. At a meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Tuesday, Mr Sreedharan said that Rs 3,600 crore envisaged by the KMRL for the project was totally inadequate to meet the requirement. Mr Sreedharan, whose DMRC, is executing the first phase of the Kochi Metro project, said the second phase of the project could not be completed with this amount.

The second phase of the project plans to extend the metro from Jawaharal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor to Info-park in Kakkanad. The 11.2 km distance will have 11 stations. The first phase of Kochi Metro from Aluva to Petta, covering  25 km, is estimated to cost Rs 5,100 cr. The second phase also included extension of the line from Petta to Trupunithura covering 1.5 km. The cost for this is Rs 420 cr.

Mr. Sreedharan also said the proposed Vizhinjam International Container Transshipment Terminal was unlikely to bring any economic benefit to the state. He said the project would face the same fate as the Vallarpadam container terminal in Kochi.

“Though there has been a strong demand from the public, MLAs and other elected representatives to extend the project to West Kochi, it is not in our recent plans as there are technical and other hurdles. As per the RITES study report, the West Kochi extension,  which will start from Jose junction to reach Thoppumpady, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi,  will cost Rs.3600 crore. Construction works along the narrow roads in the heritage zones of West Kochi will be a challenge,” said a KMRL spokesperson.

The Metro agency had entrusted RITES to undertake a feasibility study on West Kochi extension in September 2014. Mr E. Sreedharan,  during a meeting here on Tuesday, said that the estimated Rs 3,600 crore for West Kochi line was  inadequate.  The project cost would be more than Rs 6,000 crore as construction would  be technically complicated.

Earlier, Fort Kochi residents, art connoisseurs and heritage conservationists had expressed apprehensions over the impact of largescale construction activities in the heritage zone. “As per the current plans, we will take up Angamaly line in the second phase, with a proposed loop line to Cochin International Airport,” added the official.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is still available for the Light Metro project for Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode cities, its Principal Adviser E. Sreedharan said here on Saturday,

“The government is keen on implementing the project and we have not lost hope,” he said at an interface on mass rapid transit system for Kozhikode, organised by the Malabar Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Sreedharan expressed confidence that if he could meet with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a lot of issues could be discussed and the project taken forward. “The Chief Minister is keen on implementing the project. But, the bureaucracy is not showing interest. There seems to be a mental block and the government and the political leadership are being misguided,” he said.

As for the stagnation of the project, he said the government would incur a cost of Rs.10 lakh a day owing to the delay in implementation.

The government cannot look at any private player for total implementation of the scheme because the returns from operating the Light Metro services would be only three per cent of the project cost.

Mr. Sreedharan felt that the stalemate was because the State government did not have the confidence to venture into a capital intensive project.

“The funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency was negotiated to minimise the burden on the government. However, the government did not even try to find out what the loan terms were. The repayment period is 40 years and there is a moratorium on repayment for the first 10 years. The interest on the loan is only three per cent,” he said.

When participants at the interface expressed fear of the State losing the project, he said “there is no need to lose heart. Metro rail has to come up in our cities to reduce road traffic congestion and accidents and also pollution.”

In five to six years, Delhi would have the biggest metro rail system in the world. “At present 26 lakh people travel by this every day – a pointer to the fact that this has helped take 2.6 lakh vehicles off the roads in Delhi and make them that much safer.”

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