KOCHI: The Kochi Metro, the fastest metro project to be inaugurated in a record time of three years and 10 months since its construction was launched, has had a roller-coaster ride. Though it faced a lot of hurdles from the planning stage, once the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation took charge of it with the support of Kochi Metro Rail Limited, the special purpose vehicle formed for the project, there was no looking back. The time within which the first stretch from Aluva to Palarivattom has been readied is a national record. It may be recalled that it took six years to complete the first 10-km stretch of the Chennai Metro.
Kochi was the first tier-II city to be sanctioned a metro rail project by the previous Manmohan Singh government. For the UDF-led Oommen Chandy government, the completion of the project was a prestige issue and a testament for its commitment to infra development in the state. The project was finally entrusted with DMRC after a series of deliberations and uncertainty. Even a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the High Court seeking to entrust the project with the DMRC.
The SPV named KMRL was constituted in 2011 and the project proposal received Public Investment Board (PIB) nod and the Union Government clearance in 2012. The then prime minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone in September 2012. The DMRC and the the KMRL signed a Memorandum of Understanding for executing the first phase of the project in May 2013. The construction was inaugurated by the then chief minister Oommen Chandy in June 2013 with a deadline of 1095 days.
Though land acquisition was smooth and fast in the initial stage, the acquisition of plots at many stretches, especially along Ernakulam south, Vyttila to Pettah has been delayed slowing down the progress. Construction has also been hit due to several other reasons, including labour disputes, unavailability of raw materials due to strike of metal/crusher units, hartals and adverse weather. District administration has constituted a special land acquisition team and a district- level purchasing committee to negotiate and finalise land price for further extension of the project to Kakkanad.