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Kerala govt backtracks on Kochi metro inaugural, to wait for PM Modi instead

The Pinarayi Vijayan government backtracked after the BJP criticised the move, claiming that a date clashing with Modi’s upcoming Europe trip was deliberately chosen to prevent the Prime Minister from snipping the red ribbon.

india Updated: May 19, 2017 22:19 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Oommen Chandy,Kochi Metro
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the gathering during the ‘moving towards digital and paperless court’ programme at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on May 10. (Sushil Kumar/HT Photo)

The Kerala government on Friday ditched its plan to inaugurate the Kochi metro project on May 30, stating that it would prefer to wait for a convenient date from Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead.

The government backtracked after the BJP criticised the move, claiming that a date clashing with Modi’s upcoming Europe trip was deliberately chosen to prevent him from snipping the red ribbon. State tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran had earlier announced that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan would inaugurate the project on May 30 to mark the first anniversary of the LDF government.

“There was some confusion over the minister’s statement. We haven’t decided on the inauguration, and are awaiting a date from the Prime Minister,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Kannur.

The state and central governments have equal stake in the project, which was built on the PPP model.

“If someone suspects that it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the Prime Minister, they can’t be blamed. It is sad that the government decided on a date clashing with the foreign tour, which was announced much in advance,” BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan had said, adding that the Union surface transport ministry was not consulted in this regard either.

The Kochi Metro is unique in many ways. This is the first time a metro service would employ 23 trangendered people in various departments, based on their qualifications. Selected after a written test and interview, they were given vigorous training in the workings of the facility.

“Many more will be inducted after gauging their success,” said Kerala Metro Rail Limited managing director Elias George. “These people from the transgender community will be part of 530 workers from Kudumbasree, a successful women self-help group in the state, who will man the state’s first metro.”

Besides this, metro authorities have installed solar panels atop all stations to tap green energy in a big way. Once operational, almost half the power requirement of the transport facility will be met through solar energy. Around eight megawatts of electricity can be produced through these panels.

The metro will cover a distance of 13 km – Aluva to Palarivattom – in the first phase. It will have 11 stops, with a total runtime of 20 minutes.

The work on metro project began in 2012, after the erstwhile Oommen Chandy government entrusted the work to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation under the guidance of principal advisor E Sreedharan. It received the rail safety commissioner’s nod last week.

First Published: May 19, 2017 22:18 IST