Kannur: Following strong criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over alleged unilateral decision to inaugurate the Kochi metro, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday made clear that the government has not fixed the inaugural date.
The chief minister said that the state government is still trying to get prime minister Narendra Modi for the inauguration. State government has officially invited the prime minister on April 11, he said.
"We expect the PM will give us a date. The inauguration date will be decided only after that," the chief minister said here.
Earlier, a controversy erupted after the state tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said the inauguration will be held on May 30 and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate it, if the prime minister cannot make it to the function.
Soon, BJP's Kerala wing expressed strong criticism against the decision of fixing the date before getting any kind of confirmation from the prime minister.
The decision to conduct the inauguration was taken even after it was informed that prime minister Narendra Modi will be on foreign tour from May 29 to June 3, alleged BJP.
Surendran is also the convener of the ministerial sub-committee constituted to oversee the smooth conduct of the celebrations in connection with LDF government's first anniversary.
The LDF government has chalked out a 15-day program from May 20 to June 5 as part of the celebrations, which includes inauguration of the first phase of Kochi Metro, declaration of Kerala as a fully electrified state and starting off 'Operation Olympia', an elite training program to prepare the state's athletes for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
Service trials conducted
The first service trials of the Kochi Metro were conducted on May 10 paving the way for commercial operations.
Even though the Rs 5,180 crore project would run 25 km from Alwaye to Petta, the opening in May would see the train service operating at a distance of 13 km from Alwaye to Palarivattom.
It was the Oommen Chandy government which took up the ambitious project after it was first mooted by him in 2005.
Later when the V.S. Achuthanandan government took over in 2006, the project went into a limbo, only to be put back on track by Chandy again in 2011.
Work on Kochi Metro began in 2012 after Chandy's government entrusted the project to DMRC with its principal advisor Sreedharan overseeing it.
Last week the railway safety commissioner gave the nod after checking the entire facility for three days.
There are 11 stations in the 13 km stretch that is being pressed into service. Six of these stations have been fully completed and the remaining ones would be ready in two weeks time, the official added.
Chandy in 2016 flagged off the first test run of the project.