KOCHI: : The first 13-km stretch of Kochi Metro, completed in record time and incorporating state-of-the-art communication facilities that none other metros in India possess, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Saturday.
Expected to bring considerable relief to the city’s chronic traffic congestion, the Metro is also likely to put the state’s development agenda back on track.
In his inaugural speech, Modi said that Kochi Metro is the first true reflection of Make In India initiative, citing the fact that the coaches of Kochi Metro manufactured by French company Alstom at its plant near Chennai had 70% Indian components. Welcoming the audience in Malayalam, Modi said, “With Kochi Metro becoming a reality, I along with the general public am happy and proud. I congratulate the people of Kochi on this proud moment”.
Belying apprehensions that the event would be marked by partisanship, with the BJP-led central government and the CPM-led state government claiming exclusive credit for executing the project on time, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayanunderscored the Centre’s role in helping the project become a reality.
“When the inauguration of Kochi Metro rail was planned, the state government had no doubt on who should commission the project. The state cabinet unanimously decided that it should be none other than the PM,” he said. He also said there wouldn’t be any tussle between the Centre and state so far as the development of Kerala was concerned.
Though the PM didn’t announce any major development projects for the state, Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu said the Centre was considering Kerala government’s request for extending the Metro to Kakkanad as well as looking favourably at projects like Light Metros in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
Before the official ceremony, the PM accompanied by the governor, CM and a handful of dignitaries travelled up and down on the Metro from Palarivattom to Pathadipalam. Modi also lauded Kochi Metro Rail Limited,s initiative to recruit around 1,000 women and 23 transgender persons to work for it.
The CM launched the innovative Kochi1 smart card that can be also used for other modes of transport like buses, autos and taxis.