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Modi to Flag Off Kochi Metro Today; Ride With CM Pinarayi, 'Metro Man' Sreedharan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off Kerala's much-awaited Kochi metro train project on Saturday along with dignitaries, including Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:June 17, 2017, 10:43 AM IST
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Modi to Flag Off Kochi Metro Today; Ride With CM Pinarayi, 'Metro Man' Sreedharan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will enjoy a ride on Kochi Metro on Saturday along with dignitaries, including Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. (Image: PTI)
Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off Kerala's much-awaited Kochi metro train project on Saturday and sharing the stage will be Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Governor P Sathasivamand.

'Metro man' E Sreedharan, Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gouba, Kerala Chief Secretary Nalini Netto and Kerala Metro Rail Corporation (KMRL) MD Elias George will also travel with Prime Minister during the maiden journey from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam.

Before boarding the train, Modi will cut the ribbon at Palarivattom station. He will reach Palarivattom Metro station at 10.35 am, PTI reported.

Yogesh Saini and Sumit Kumar will be the Train Operators for PM's journey, a KMRL spokesperson said. Pawan Kumar and Anil Kumar will be there supporting them from the drivers' cabins.

After the train ride, the dignitaries will reach the JLN Stadium, Kaloor where the public event will begin.

ALSO READ| Kochi Metro Takes to Tracks Today: All You Need to Know

The event was earlier mired in controversy with Sreedharan’s name left out of the guest list. Public uproar forced the state government to write to the PMO again, following which Sreedharan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala were invited.

The Rs 5,181-crore project has been praised for its social initiatives, including the employment of 23 transgenders. It also boosted the strength of its women workforce by roping in units from Kudumbashree, women empowerment program. Apart from technical positions, women will also be seen behind the Metro wheel. Of the 39 locopilots employed, seven are women.

“We are really proud of our social initiatives. This is probably the first infrastructure project which has brought in Kudumbashree. We have employed around 1,000 women from the disadvantaged sections. They have been employed in ticketing, housekeeping, parking, gardening and customer care. We have focused on women employment in all sectors of the Metro, including technical," said KMRL MD Elias George.

George also stressed on the eco-friendly aspects of the project. Around 25% of the energy needs will be met by solar power, he said. Besides, the pillars of the Metro line will also be converted into vertical gardens and will use recycled municipal waste.

George added that the entire project would be completed in two to three years. The deliberations for the Metro first began in 1996 and plans were approved by the state government in 2008. Central permissions, however, proved a stumbling block — the state government wanted a Public-Private Partnership model but the central government had wanted a Centre-State partnership.

Finally in 2012, the Centre gavea go-ahead and then prime minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone on September 13, 2012.

E Sreedharan, the principal advisor of DMRC and the main driving force behind the Metro said the addition will change “social attitudes”. "A lot of discipline is required while using the Metro. We have to maintain orderliness and cleanliness. It will change the social attitude of the people and bring a new living culture."

He also recalled the challenges faced while executing the project. Primary concerns were rainfall and narrow roads, he said. “If we had taken over these roads for construction, people would have been inconvenienced. So we had to do most of the work at night. This was not the case with other cities where we carried out the work during the day. Here, more than 80% of the work was done at night."

The KMRL had organised a traditional sadya (feast) for its workers ahead of Saturday’s inauguration.
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