Kochi: Notwithstanding the constant nagging in cocktail circuits about the endless delay for completion of projects and the ubiquitous labour militancy in Kerala, the work for Kochi Metro Rail has really turned out to be an exception. Compared to the metro projects in Bengaluru and Chennai, the Kochi project has been able to progress without much hurdle. The Kochi project has kept the deadline without much change despite the fact that the challenges involved in undertaking a construction work in a place having nearly six months of rains. The success in keeping the schedule of the completion of the work has also helped in arresting the cost escalation of the project. Although the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) is yet to release the final cost of the project, the indications available so far point towards not much of an increase in terms escalation of costs.
A comparison with the Bengaluru Metro Rail project will reveal the importance of keeping the cost at the budgeted levels. The Bengaluru Metro launched with an estimated project cost of Rs 6,395 cr in 2006 is now projected to cost a whopping Rs 14,405 cr. The length of the metro network being revised to 42.3 km from the original 33 km cannot justify such a steep rise in the cost of the project. The increase in cost of land, construction materials and high cost involved in the construction of the underground network have been cited as the prime reasons for the escalation of the costs. But, more worrying is the cash loss incurred by the Bengaluru metro in the financial year in 2015-16. According to financials BMRCL has made revenue of Rs 48.46 cr while the operational expenditure was Rs 08.88 cr leading to total operational loss of Rs 60.35 cr. The challenge before KMRL will be now to avoid operational loses when the metro start operations. The competence shown for the timely completion of the project alone will not be enough for achieving such an enviable task.