KOCHI: Though infirmities of old age did not allow her an easy ascent up the stairs to Palarivattom metro station, 80-year-old Kanchanavalli’s face betrayed no sense of uneasiness. The excitement of being one of the first few passengers of Kochi Metro rail had buoyed her spirits. An inmate of an old-age home at Fort Kochi, Kanchanavalli took the Metro ride set aside for older people and children with disabilities.
A day after the inauguration of the Kochi Metro by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) offered free ride to the students of special schools, elders from old-age homes and the inhabitants of orphanages in and around Kochi on Sunday morning.
Giving them company was Health and Social Welfare Minister K K Shylaja. The minister was accompanied by Social Department Director T V Anupama. The children, numbering 450 and 150 teachers, were welcomed on board the Metro with balloons, flags and festoons, and not surprisingly, a festive atmosphere filled the coaches. Officers said students from government-run institutions within Kochi Corporation, Aluva and Kalamassery municipalities and Choornikkara panchayat were chosen for the first ride. The minister was seen interacting with the kids, who were in a celebratory mood, enjoying every passing station, from Kalamassery to Aluva and return.
Shylaja later told mediapersons the government would consider the plan to introduce concessional rates for physically challenged people in Metro. “Further details in this regard will be finalised after holding discussions with the KMRL,” she said.