After a keenly awaited round of discussions with Metroman E Sreedharan here on Wednesday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced that DMRC itself will execute the Kochi Metro Rail project and that the former will lead it.
This comes amid a frantic bid by the UDF government to wriggle out of the Kochi Metro mess and clear the feeling that attempts were being made to cut Metroman E Sreedharan to size and eventually eject him out of the dream project. Chandy’s initiative followed another round of talks Sreedharan had with Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed in a meeting held last week.
“Sreedharan has given an undertaking that once the agreement is inked, Kochi Metro project would be completed in three years’ time. The government is extremely hopeful,” said Chandy. Sreedharan said that the DMRC has already prepared the tender documents and designs for Kochi Metro project.
“Engineers have been trained for taking up the works,” he said, even as rumours are rife on many outstanding issues between him and the DMRC, including the non-ratification of his post as principal advisor of the corporation. Chandy said that he will meet Union Minister Kamal Nath during a trip planned to New Delhi shortly.
Earlier, Chandy had appealed to the Prime Minister to resolve the delay in handing over the Kochi Metro Rail project to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). In a letter written to Manmohan Singh and Union Minister for Urban Development minister Kamal Nath, Chandy expressed concern over DMRC’s indecision to take up the Rs 5,181 crore project.
The delay, despite the strong support from five state representatives in the Kochi Rail Metro Corporation, had been a cause of growing concern.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) norms were against awarding the contract for a project to an agency which did the consultancy for the project. According to reports, Kerala power minister Aryadan Muhammed had also written a letter to DMRC seeking speedy decision on the permission of its Directors Board to take up projects outside Delhi. Aryadan insisted the state was losing a massive Rs 40 Lakh everyday due to the delay in decisions.
Kochi Metro a ‘burden’ for DMRC?
Belying the state government’s expectation made amply clear in the last few days by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and State Minister for Railways Aryadan Mohammed, the director board of the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) which met in Kochi over a meeting last week decided to defer a going forward decision till the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) could make a commitment on its participation.
KMRL chairman Sudhir Krishna, who is also the DMRC chairman, told reporters that the DMRC director board had voiced its concern over the agency undertaking the Kochi Metro, while it’s already burdened with other projects. “A clear stand on Kochi Metro Rail will be taken by the DMRC in its next board meeting that will be held by the mid of November,” Sudhir Krishna said. Earlier, E Sreedharan, the principal adviser of Kochi Metro Rail project, had made it clear that he will not associate with the project if the work was not awarded to the DMRC.