After Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently flagged off the first phase of Kochi Metro, ground work for the `4,219-crore Light Metro Rail project in Thiruvananthapuram has been put on the backburner.
The pace of land acquisition for the project has gone down despite warnings from Metro Man E Sreedharan over time and cost escalations.
“Only the land acquisition for flyovers is done,” Thiruvananthapuram mayor VK Prasanth said.
Altogether, there are four flyovers on the 21.8-km Technocity-Karamana corridor. The state government has given its nod for negotiated purchase, but work is yet to pick up momentum.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is the turnkey consultant for the light Metro project to Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTL) that executes the project. Two Kerala cities – Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode – had rolled out their elevated light Metro plans, while Kochi went for Metro rail.
The main hitch is that the ministry of urban development has been sitting on the comprehensive mobility plan of the two cities with an outlay of `6,728 crore from September 2015. Though at the inauguration function of Kochi Metro, Union minister for urban development Venkaiah Naidu had promised to prioritise the nod for light Metro, it is yet to happen.
DMRC principal adviser E Sreedharan had told the Pinarayi Vijayan government that the project team should keep working while waiting for Central clearance. “This is the time when the ground preparation should hasten since delay would mean cost escalation,” he had told the Kerala CM.
The Kerala government has made a budgetary provision of about `200 crore for the preparatory work. In Kozhikode, for its 13.33-km elevated light Metro project with 14 stations, the state government will have to garner `2,509 crore for land acquisition alone. In Thiruvananthapuram, land acquisition would need about `272.68 crore to procure just 2.27 hectares of land and shift 163 buildings.
The state government had also been in parleys with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) officials for step loans at 4% interest with repayment tenure spread over 40 years. The current financial plan for the Light Metro Rail project is that if the Centre pumps in Rs 826 crore, the Kerala government will have to cough up Rs 1,167 crore.
“We had recently held a meeting to identify ways to speed up the work on the light Metro in Kerala capital,” said state tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran, who’s also the legislator in the area where the project is proposed. “DMRC has completed the demarcation of the land for flyover,” he added.
Kerala, through its SPV Kerala Rapid Transport Corporation, is getting ready to conduct a social impact assessment study for the proposed flyover at Sreekaryam. This is mandated by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.