Kochi: Kerala's commercial capital Kochi is in the throes of significant change. The city is set to be served by a water metro just a few years after the launch of the much-awaited metro rail project. If everything goes well, the ambitious integrated water transport project will be commissioned in September 2020 to coincide with Onam festivities. Meanwhile, the central government nod for the phase-two extension of the Kochi Metro Rail is expected soon.
The water metro project, which is also being executed by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), aims to provide better transportation facilities to people living on islands surrounding the city. It also intends a comprehensive development by extending the scope of tourism opportunities in these isles.
“It is water metro and not metro rail that is going to drastically change city life,” asserted Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Managing Director of the KMRL. The first set of boats, being built by the Cochin Shipyard, will be delivered by next September as per the deal though the production of all boats would be completed only in two years.
The construction of jetties at Vyttila, Kakkanad, Mattanchery and Infopark is underway and 8 terminals will be put in place in the first phase. Eleven terminals will be completed in the second phase for which a tender will be floated. A decision in this regard will be taken next month.
Extension of Metro Rail
The Center’s green signal for the second phase of the Kochi Metro Rail is likely soon. Once the Public Investment Board gives the nod, the Cabinet sub-committee will immediately sanction the project, and it can be expected in one or two months, Sharma said. The French Development Bank has promised funding for the project, and the Center and state government will have equal stake in the second phase.
“In two to three months we expect the requisite nod for the second phase in which the metro service will be extended to SmartCity in Kakkanad,” Sharma said referring to the metro rail project.
The central government had tried to sell ‘light metro’ for Kochi Metro’s second phase. But considering the huge acceptance for metro service, the central government has given the assurance to give nod for metro rail itself for the second phase development.
Light metro or light rail transit is considered to be a revamped version of tram services. It is a medium-capacity rail transport system.
The Kochi Metro Rail is a model of sustainable development and running without disturbing the ecological balance. Even the space set aside for commercial purpose in metro stations is quite limited. The theme of each station had been selected considering the historical importance of each place.
A metro rail service cannot breakeven just with income from ticket sales, hence revenue from advertisements is also imperative. The KMRL is yet to get the nod to allow advertisements on metro pillars between Aluva and Edapally though it had reached an understanding with the National Highway Division in this regard. As per the deal, the national highway stretch between Aluva and Edapally should be handed over to the Kerala Public Works Department and the state government should undertake repair works of the road. The authorities concerned are expecting a final decision on this in immediate future.
Consultancy firm KPMG had been given the responsibility to chalk out income-generating projects on 17 acres of land given to the KMRL by the state government. (This land is near the NGO Quarters at Kakkanad.) A detailed report on these projects is expected shortly.
The KMRL is likely to get another 14 acres of land adjacent to the land it has at NGO Quarters. If so, it can start an exhaustive commercial hub on 30 acres of land. The project has been drafted to generate revenue of close to Rs 1,000 crore, and a committee headed by chief secretary will take a final call on it.