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Kochi Metro inauguration: Pinarayi asks Modi to accommodate Sreedharan on dais

LiveMint logoLiveMint 14-06-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to accommodate ‘metro man’ E. Sreedharan and two others on dais when he inaugurates Kochi Metro on Saturday.

The state had sent a list of 17 people to the prime minister’s office, which was trimmed to seven by the PMO citing security arrangements. Sreedharan was among those dropped.

The exclusion of Sreedharan, who supervised the Kochi metro project since its beginning in 2012 at the invitation of the Kerala government, caused consternation in the state that is ready to flag off its first metro service in its commercial capital.

“I have requested the Centre to allow Sreedharan, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and local legislator P.T. Thomas to be present on the dais for the inauguration,” Vijayan later wrote on his official Facebook page.

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The final list cleared by the PMO include Vijayan, Modi, Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, governor P. Sathasivam, state transport minister Thomas Chandy and mayor Soumini Jain and MP K.V. Thomas.

Sreedharan, who executed massive infrastructure projects such as Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, was specially invited by the previous administration in Kerala to oversee the Kochi Metro project. He is also principal advisor to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, the implementing agency of Kochi Metro.

The PMO also struck off the names of Kochi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd managing director Elias George, who is credited to have spearheaded the project without any major hiccups.

“It’s a sad development,” Chennithala told reporters. “Kochi Metro is a dream project of Kerala and the move amounts to sidelining those who have worked for it the most. Such a controversy at the last moment should have been avoided.” He said the party is displeased with the way it has turned out, but will not boycott the inauguration.

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