KOCHI: Clad in a sartorial light blue kurta, in sync with the turquoise colour scheme of the Kochi Metro, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to strike a futuristic chord when he said 50 cities in India are ready for metro rail projects. His government would now focus on generation next infrastructure - logistics, digital and gas, the Prime Minister said, after dedicating Kochi Metro to the nation.
Over the last three years, the NDA Government had been focusing on infrastructure - railways, roads and power sector, with stress on fast implementation and resolving bottlenecks, he said. Modi said a number of initiatives have been taken by his government to enhance public transport, particularly in the cities.
“Foreign investment has been invited in this sector. The economic and social benefits of metro rail systems are well-known. We have speeded up policy formulation in this sector,” he said. “There is a need to bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning, by adopting a people-centric approach, and integrating land-use and transport,” he said.
The Government of India has standardised the specifications for rolling stock and signalling systems of metro rail. “This will encourage manufacturers to set up manufacturing facilities in India with a long-term perspective. In line with the ‘Make in India’ vision, efforts are being made to promote domestic manufacturing of metro rolling stock,” he said.
Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu said the Kochi Metro would greatly reduce the commuting woes of people. “I would like to request KMRL to expedite the remaining work and open the facility for public as soon as possible,” Naidu said. However, there were no announcements either from Modi or Naidu about funds for the next phase of the Metro or for any other infrastructure projects.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Kerala had proved to the world the state could implement mega projects like the Metro rail faster than any other state. ‘’We would continue to look at the Centre for more aid for such projects,” he said. “The government will not tolerate protests for the sake of protests and will get on with development,” the CM said.
Earlier, Modi travelled from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam and back - a ride that lasted less than 10 minutes - to mark the commencement of Metro’s commercial operations.
He was accompanied by Venkaiah Naidu, Governor P Sathasivam, Pinarayi Vijayan, principal adviser to DMRC E Sreedharan, KMRL managing director Elias George and BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan.
Kochi Metro is not a mere marquee project for Kerala. It’s part of a collective dream for which all and sundry have waited zealously for over a decade since the idea germinated in early 2000. The project is a testimony to the state’s capacity to undertake uber-cool and capital-intensive infrastructure projects. The commuting ethos of the state witnessed a watershed moment on Saturday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching the commercial operations of the Kochi Metro. The New Indian Express lensman Albin Mathew captures some memorable moments from the grand gala launch ceremony of the project.
IN PICTURES: PM Modi inaugurates Kochi Metro
Metro Man steals the show
More than anyone else on the dais, it was Metro Man E Sreedharan who received the biggest round of applause, not once but several times whenever his name was mentioned by the speakers. On one occasion, the gathering erupted in a long round of applause and cheering forcing KMRL Managing Director Elias George to stop his welcome address for a few moments.
NaMo’s tryst with Malayalam
In what has become customary during each of his Kerala visits, Modi began his speech in Malayalam, welcomed with a huge cheer by the 3,500-strong invitees at the venue - the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium premises. “Ente priyappetta sahodaree sahodaranmare, Kochi Metroyude proudamaya ee udghadana chadangil pankeduthathil Keralathileyum, Kochiyileyum janangalodoppam santhoshikkunnu. Abhimanikkukayum cheyyunnu.” (My dear brothers and sisters. I share my joy and happiness along with the people of Kochi and Kerala on this momentous occasion of the opening of Kochi Metro. I also feel equally proud).
Kerala Govt has already submitted revised proposal for Kochi Metro phase 2 and Light Metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. I would like to mention that proper feasibility and travel demand study should be made before going for metro system as it is highly cost intensiveVenkaiah Naidu, Union Minister