KOZHIKODE: On July 26, 2013, DMRC principal adviser E Sreedharan said in Kozhikode: “Given the traffic projections in Kozhikode, the peak hour peak direction traffic (PHPDT) in 2041 will be around 11,500. A monorail can handle a PHPDT capacity of 14,000 to 16,000 passengers. A Bus Rapid Transmission System (BRTS) can manage only 6,000. For a Light Metro Rail, the PHPDT requirement should be at least 35,000. Hence, considering the economic point of view, a monorail is the best option.”
On the closure of monorail projects in Sydney, Sreedharan then said: “Given the traffic demands of a big city like Sydney, a monorail is not feasible. Besides, the existing monorail is around 18 years old and is using an outdated technology. Which is why they have decided to abandon the project. Monorail systems are going successfully in countries like Japan, South Korea, China and Japan and are even making good profit also.”
A couple of days ago, at the board meeting of Kerala Monorail Corporation Limited, the metroman suggested light rail be implemented in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Without any hesitation ministers readily agreed, but
Express tried to contact E Sreedharan for comment, but sources close to him said he was not interested in talking to the media.
“The government has literally fooled the people by taking an arbitrary decision to implement light rail, which as equally capital intensive as a monorail,” said former NATPAC coordinator N Vijayakumar.
According to him, the decision to shift the technology, in which the state has little expertise, was a hasty one. “How can we take a decision to switch from a monorail to light rail so quickly? It would not be completely wrong if people doubted ‘somebody’ is taking advantage of the government,” he said. Citizens Voice, a civic forum which opposed the Kozhikode monorail project from the start by stating that it had been proposed without conducting proper studies, remains sceptical of light rail.
“E Sreedharan, while batting for Kozhikode monorail, had categorically stated that light rail was not viable for Kozhikode. His argument was that Kozhikode would only witness peak hour traffic of 11,500 in 2041 in one direction and that a monorail is a better option. We could not understand on what basis light rail became a better system in a matter of short time,” said Citizens Voice coordinator K Shaju. The government should have demanded an explanation from the DMRC on the huge disparity between its estimate and the rate quoted by the lone bidder, Shaju said. “This is a major failure on the part of the agency. Hence, it would not be appropriate for the government to rely on the DMRC alone,” he said.
Already, there is grumble among top bureaucrats that the government is giving undue importance to the DMRC. At the same time, they privately concede the fact that they lack expertise to counter the DMRC or E Sreedharan for that matter. “The government has been literally hijacked by the DMRC. Nobody dares to raise a doubt about the DMRC as it would draw scathing media criticism. However, we should consider the feasibility while taking decisions on such projects,” said a top official, preferring anonymity.