Kochi: The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) will sign a loan agreement with Germany-based KFW Development Bank (KfW), on Saturday, to implement the Rs 819.27-crore integrated water transport project in the Greater Kochi region.
Works on establishing a water transport network in Kochi, the first major project to be taken up by the LDF government, is expected to begin next month.
The pact will be inked in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Kerala House in New Delhi. The project agreement will be signed by KMRL managing director and Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) Elias George on behalf of the State government, and KMRL Director (Finance) Abraham Oommen, and KfW Director (India operations) Peter Hilliges.
“Kochi will be among the few cities in Asia and the first city in the country to have water connectivity as a feeder service to the metro. No other metro rail project in the country has explored this option of improving urban water-borne passenger traffic with such a significant level of investment,” officials said.
The loan promised by the German bank works out to 80 per cent of the total project cost, i.e approximately Rs 590 crore, the highest loan allocation from a foreign funding agency to a project in India in percentage terms so far. The state government would bear an amount of Rs 102.30 crore.
The proposal, which is designed to function as a feeder system to the metro rail, had earlier received the green signal from Central and State governments.
Under the project, a fleet of 78 faster and safer ferries with a speed of up to 12 nautical miles to link that islands that surround the city will be procured. The key speciality of the facility is that one can travel by either the metro train or the boat using the same ticket.
Parking and shopping facilities will be made available at the proposed floating boat jetties on each island. Roads from jetties to various parts of these islands will also be renovated.
Small battery-operated vehicles will ply on the narrow lanes. Bicycle tracks and footpaths will also be constructed.
“The boats will be equipped with latest safety and communication devices. The work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017,” said Elias George.
As many as 12 international firms have expressed interest in taking part in the tender process for the appointment of a general consultant, he added.