The Kochi Metro, Kerala’s first Metro service, is India’s first integrated multi-mode transport system. The Metro has employed 23 transgenders in various departments, and trains will be driven mainly by women from a self-help group.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the maiden run of the Kochi Metro on Saturday, and took a ride on one of the trains. One of the fastest to be built in the country, the Kochi Metro is the first public transport system to reserve jobs for members of the third sex and it will be manned mainly by women a self-help group. Modi also launched the PN Panicker National Reading Day – Reading Month Celebrations.
Here are the highlights:
1.50 pm: As PM Modi leaves for Delhi, a controversy erupts over the BJP’s Kerala unit president Kummanam Rajasekharan being allowed to travel with the PM in the Kochi Metro as his name was not there in the list. The CM’s office says no idea how Kummanam got into the Metro, while MP NK Premachandran calls it a “protocol violation”.
1:40 pm: Meeting over. PM Modi to board aircraft to Delhi in five minutes.
1.06 pm: CM Vijayan will submit a memorandum to PM Modi seeking help for an AIIMS centre and a light metro for Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, say officials.
1.05 pm: PM Modi leaves for meeting with CM Pinarayi Vijayan and state ministers at the Kochi naval base before leaving for New Delhi.
1.03 pm: One literate woman can educate two families and two generations, says PM Modi.
1.02 pm: Together, we can once again make India a land of wisdom and knowledge, says PM Modi.
1.02 pm: I believe in people’s power. I see big hope in such committed social movements. They have the capacity to make a better society and nation, says PM.
1.02 pm: PM Modi says focus on digital literacy is the need of the hour.
1.01 pm: There can be no joy greater than reading and no strength greater than knowledge. Kerala has been an inspiration to the whole nation in literacy, says PM Modi.
1.01 pm: PM Modi says Kerala has set an example in people’s participation. Says he admires PN Panicker’s work.
1.00 pm: I appeal to people to give a book instead of a bouquet as a greeting. Such a move can make a big difference, says PM Modi.
12.59 pm: PM Modi says Kerala is a torch-bearer in the field of eduction in India. Says Kerala was the first state in India to achieve 100% literacy.
12.58 pm: PM Modi recalls contributions of PN Panicker, says he was the driving spirit behind the library network in Kerala through the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham with 47 libraries.
12.57 pm: PM Modi releases souvenir on yoga.
12.57 pm: PM Modi releases poster for Reading Day-Reading Month Celebrations.
12.50 pm: PM Modi says Kerala’s success in education could not have been achieved by governments alone. Citizens and social organisations have played an active role.
12.45 pm: PM Modi reaches St Teresa’s College for the launch of the PN Panicker National Reading Day – Reading Month Celebrations.
12.28 pm: PM Modi proceeds towards St Teresa’s College to inaugurate a memorial dedicated to PN Panicker, who revolutionised the library movement in the state.
12.22 pm: PM Modi lauds Kochi, says it 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,” says Modi.
12.21 pm: PM Modi says there is need to bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning by adopting a people-centric approach and integrating land-use and transport.
12.20 pm: The government is focusing on next generation infrastructure, which includes logistics, digital and gas, says PM Modi.
12.20 pm: PM Modi says he has personally reviewed nearly 175 projects worth more than Rs 8 lakh crore and resolved many bottlenecks.
12.20 pm: CM Vijayan presents a hand-carved wooden model of a Kochi Metro train to PM Modi.
12.15 pm: Nearly 1,000 women and 23 transgenders selected to work in Kochi Metro rail system, says PM Modi.
12.15 pm: PM Modi hails Metro for giving chance to women and transgenders, says 50 cities in the country ready to take Metro route and the Union government is committed to help them.
12.13 pm: Over the last three years, the government has placed special focus on overall infrastructure development of the nation, says PM Modi.
12.12 pm: Mass rapid transport is the need of the hour. The government is committed to improve it, says PM Modi. Thanks France and Alstom, the company that made the train coaches.
12.11 pm: The Metro coaches reflect the Make in India vision. They have been built by Alstom near Chennai, and have an Indian component of around 70%, says PM Modi.
12.11 pm: Kochi Metro Rail Limited is a 50-50 joint venture of the Central and Kerala governments. The Union government has so far released over Rs 2,000 crore for the project, says PM Modi.
12.10 pm: Kochi, the queen of the Arabian Sea, was once an important spice trading centre. Today, it is known as the commercial capital of Kerala, says PM Modi.
12.09 pm: Modi congratulates people of Kochi, says city ranks first in the total number of domestic and international tourists in Kerala.
12.05 pm: PM Modi unveils plaque and dedicates Kochi Metro to nation.
11.56 am: Vijayan lauds Metro man Sreedharan for the work done for the Kochi Metro. Says timely completion of the Metro shows mega projects can, in fact, be completed on time.
11.55 am: CM Pinarayi Vijayan says Kerala needs a lot of development projects and this needs cooperation of the state and central governments.
11.52 am: Irrespective of political affiliations, state and Centre should work unitedly for development, says Venkaiah Naidu.
11.51 am: CM Vijayan launches mobile app for Kochi Metro that will help commuters connect with all modes of transport. It will help inform about all activities, events and stores related to the Metro.
11.50 am: Naidu says PM Modi belies in ‘Team India” concept and continuous to focus on one thing – development.
11. 47 am: Naidu says Kochi is a smart city because of its smart people. Lauds people for all their effort.
11.44 am: Venkaiah Naidu congratulates Sreedharan for construction of Kochi Metro in the fastest time of four years. Compliments the Kerala government and congratulates the people of Kerala.
11.42 am: Smart card for Kochi Metro — called Kochi 1 — launched. Personalised smart cards presented to all dignitaries, including PM Modi.
11.27 am: PM Modi reaches the main venue — Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor. Official programme about to start. Ensemble of percussion instruments greet PM Modi at venue.
11.25 am: Huge crowds line up on both sides of the elevated Metro to greet PM Modi. Modi waves and greets the people, and changes his seat twice to look at the beauty of Kochi.
11.15 am: PM Modi says Kochi Metro a futuristic infrastructure that will contribute to India’s growth.
11.02 am: PM Modi, CM Vijayan, Governor Sathasivam and Venkaiah Naidu talk to officials onboard first train.
11 am: PM Modi reaches Palarivattam station. Cuts ribbon and enters station and boards Metro as its first passenger. Will travel to Pathadippalam station and return to Palarivattam again in 15 minutes. Sreedharan and VIPs including Union minister Venkaiah Naidu travelling with PM Modi.
10.45 am: All set for the big event. PM Modi to arrive soon at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor.
10.30 am: PM Modi’s motorcade proceeds towards Palarivattam Metro station.
10.15 am: PM Modi arrives at the Kochi naval base in a special aircraft. Governor Sathasivam and CM Pinarayi Vijayan receive him .
9.35 am: A movie on making of the Kochi Metro and it’s architect E Sreedharan, directed by M Padmakumar, will be released in December.
9.25 am: The Metro will usher in a new work culture, says its architect E Sreedharan.
9.21 am: PM Modi expected to land at the Kochi naval base at 10am. He will proceed to Palarivattom station to board the Metro to Pathadipplam and will return to Palarivattom. Then he will proceed to Kaloor international stadium, the venue of the inaugural ceremony.
9.20 am: City is all decked up to welcome PM Modi. With high security, the port city looks like a fort. A poster war is on the city, on who should get credit for the Metro. The CPI(M), the Congress and the Centre’s ruling BJP all claim credit.
9.15 am: Heavy rain lashes Kochi. Drizzling near inaugural venue Kaloor stadium.
9.10 am: “We are really excited. It will open a new window for us. With this, we hope other institutions and organisations open their doors for us,” says Raga Ranjini, a transgender post-graduate who will be manning a ticket counter at one of the stations.
9.05 am: The Metro has employed 23 transgenders in various departments based on their qualifications. More workers from the community will be inducted after gauging their success, says Kerala Metro Rail Limited managing director Elias George.
The Kochi Metro is the county’s first fully integrated metro. With one ticket, a commuter can travel in feeder services along road and water.
It has also installed solar panels atop all stations to tap green energy. Once fully operational, the Metro’s entire power demand will be met by these panels.
In the first phase, trains will operate for a distance of 13 km — Aluva to Palarivattom. There are 11 stations in the 13-km stretch that will be covered in 20 minutes. Later, it will be extended to Maharajas College.
Construction for the first phase began in 2012 after the then Oommen Chandy government entrusted the work to the DMRC with E Sreedharan as its principal advisor.