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Kerala plans ‘Kochi Metro’ inauguration, with or without Narendra Modi’s presence

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-05-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has decided to inaugurate the state’s first metro train service, Kochi Metro, on 30 May, with or without Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate the project on 30 May, but his presence is not confirmed,” Kerala tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran told reporters on Friday.

“We cannot wait forever for the Prime Minister; if he is unavailable then chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the metro,” he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kummanam Rajashekaran said the state government’s decision, despite news reports suggesting that the PM will be overseas on the date, is clearly a plan to sideline the BJP.

Kochi Metro will run 13 km in its first phase of operation, spanning 11 stations between Alwaye and Palarivattom in Kerala’s economic hub, Ernakulam district.

The idea of the Rs 5,181 crores train service was first mooted in 2005. Construction began only in 2012 because of several reasons including disputes over land acquisition.

Funding for the project was raised in the form of loans and aid from state and central governments, French development agency Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and national and local banks. Additionally, it has plans to expand its reach by 11.7 km, at an estimated outlay of Rs 2577 crore.

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