KOCHI: From the Global Industrial Finance Trade (GIFT) City project to an allocation for Water Metro, Kochi has a few reasons to cheer for in the state budget presented by Finance Minister K N Balagopal on Friday. Out of the major allotments for various projects, an amount of Rs 150 crore has been earmarked for the Kochi Water Metro. The Rs 747-crore project is being implemented with the financial support of KfW, a German agency. However, to meet the land acquisition requirements for the construction of boat jetties, the state government will have to pump in funds.
“It is a positive move from the government’s side to set aside funds for Water Metro in the state budget. We can use the money for the remaining land acquisition for the construction of boat jetties. The plan is to complete the work on the Water Metro terminals by June end,” said Loknath Behera, managing director, Kochi Water Metro. However, there is no separate allocation for Kochi Metro rail in the budget this time. On that, Behera said the government, in its agreement itself, had made it clear that it would meet any shortcoming of funds for Metro rail in time.
At the same time, the budget has made a general allocation of Rs 507 crore for 10 major infrastructure development projects in the state including the Kochi Metro rail and the Kochi Integrated Water Transport System.
Among the other key projects for Kochi, the finance minister said that investment to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore is expected through the Industrial Corridor and the Gift City, which are included in the Kochi Palakkad HighTech Industrial Corridor. It is expected to provide direct employment to 22,000 and indirect employment to 80,000 individuals. “Out of 2,000 acres required for the project, 1,000 acres will be acquired through State Plan and the remaining will be through the financial assistance of KIIFB,” said Balagopal.
KIIFB has agreed to provide a loan with interest to acquire 144.97 hectares for the project.“Human resource development was the focus of this year’s budget. It is a great idea for the finance minister to think differently. Kochi too got a good share of the budget allocations. However, our humble request is that all these projects/proposals should not end up on paper,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Kochi-based think tank, Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR).
Kochi’s share in the budget
Double block science park near CIAL: Rs 300 cr
Kerala Startup Mission: Rs 90.52 cr
Kochi Water Metro: Rs 150 cr
‘Ro-Ro’ boats for Kochi: Rs 10 crore
Pandit Karuppan memorial hall: Rs 30 lakh
Tribal Cultural Hub at Foreshore Road: Rs 2.2 cr
‘Operation Breakthrough’ project to resolve waterlogging: Rs 10 cr
Kerala Aqua Ventures International Limited (KAVIL), Aluva: Rs 50 lakh
New Media Academy: Rs 7.40 cr
Cusat: Rs 20 cr (More rooms for students will be constructed at hostels in Cusat)