Kochi metro should be a people's project: Tom Jose
14 Nov, 2011, 06.22AM IST, S Sanandakumar,ET Bureau
Kochi, Nov 14:
He wants to make it a people's project. Tom Jose, managing director of Kochi Metro Rail, has invited school children to design a logo for the city's metro rail.
The Rs 5,146-crore project is among the largest investment projects to be taken up in Kerala, with equity participation both from the Centre and the state.
Jose is keen on completing work in the next four years to avoid cost over-runs. Not surprisingly, his role model is E Sreedharan who has made the Delhi Metro one of the best-run infrastructure utilities and redefined the infrastructure development paradigm.
"A mass rapid transit system (MRTS) that assures on time arrivals and departures has often been cited as the single most important factor, that improves the quality of life of people in cities.
An MRTS has been recognised as the answer to traffic woes of Kochi, a city of narrow roads. The region has grown at a fast clip, attracting more people to the city.
The high density of population also makes it tough to undertake road-widening projects. The waterbased transport in the city can only supplement landbased solutions, not a substitute" says the 51-year old career bureaucrat.
However, he concedes that a project of this magnitude has to overcome many challenges.
The union cabinet is expected to clear the project within a few weeks. Preparatory work has begun in the city at an investment of Rs 157 crore.
The work includes construction of two overbridges and widening of a few roads. The total land area that has to be acquired for the entire project is around 32 hectares.
And that presents the most serious challenge. Land acquisition is a challenge in a city like Kochi that has a high density of population.
Moreover, expectations about compensation is also high in the region. Two land acquisition units have already started their work.
"We hope to finish the entire exercise in about 10 months. We should have 80% of the land with us before we start construction to avoid time and cost overruns", he says.
In the first phase, the Kochi Metro would cover a distance of 25.5 km and will have 23 stations. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation ( DMRC) would be the primary consultant for the Kochi metro project.
Apart from this, the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd would be selecting general consultants for specific components of the project such as design, signal systems, air conditioning and so on.
Kochi Metro Rail Ltd is planning to complete the project in four years. Unlike other cities like Delhi, Chennai or Bangalore, where similar projects have been taken up, Kochi has to factor in the heavy monsoons, that could slow down work.
However, Tom Jose says that the fouryear completion target has been fixed after taking all such factors into account.
As far as funding of the Kochi metro project goes, the state and central governments are expected to pick up equity stake of 15% each in the company. At present, the company is fully owned by the Kerala Government.
However, ownership pattern will change, with investment from the central government.