Inaugurating the first phase of Kochi Metro for commercial operation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said 50 cities in India are ready to implement Metro railway projects in an effort to enhance public transport.
“Foreign investment has been invited in this sector (and) 50 cities in India are ready to implement Metro rail projects,” Modi said in his address.
In line with the government’s “Make in India” vision, Modi said, efforts are being made to promote domestic manufacture of Metro’s rolling stock. The coaches of Kochi Metro reflect the “Make in India” vision, having been manufactured by Alstom of France at their factory near Chennai, he said. He pointed out that they have around 70 per cent Indian component.
The Prime Minister said there is a need to bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning by adopting a people-centric approach and integrating land-use and transport. He also called Kochi Metro’s decision to employ nearly 1,000 women and 23 transgenders “noteworthy”.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lauded the Centre for its “positive approach’’ towards development and said, “There is no politics in matters of development. It was the stand of the state government that the Prime Minister should inaugurate Kochi Metro.”
Earlier, Modi took the Metro and travelled for six km along with CM Vijayan, Governor P Sathasivam, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, DMRC’s principal adviser E Sreedharan, Kochi Metro managing director Elias George, and BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan.
While Sreedharan being kept out of the main list of guests for the dais had kicked up a storm in Kerala, leading the state government to request the PMO to invite him, the ‘Metro Man’ drew loud cheers from the audience on Saturday. The 85-year-old, who has been associated with the project since its inception, received a loud applause each time his name was mentioned during the function.
Although the Prime Minister did not make any reference to Sreedharan, Venkaiah Naidu acknowledged his role. “I would like to compliment Sreedharanji for his support and able guidance,” Naidu said.
In his address, Chief Minister Vijayan said no one can forget Sreedharan’s contribution. “His extraordinary leadership had helped speedy completion of the Metro project,’’ he said.
During the inauguration of the Metro station at Palarivattom, the Chief Minister took care to bring Sreedharan to the front row of guests. When the Prime Minister was cutting the ribbon, Vijayan was seen making a place for Sreedharan in the front row of guests on the dais. After the event, the audience were seen jostling to take a selfie with Sreedharan.
Of the 25-km stretch, 13.2 km stretch was inaugurated on Saturday. Commercial services are set to begin on Monday.