Modi flags off Kerala's first metro in Kochi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday flagged off the Kochi metro - India's first integrated multi-mode transport system that has reserved jobs for transgenders and will be run mostly by women.
With Metro Man E. Sreedharan by his side, Modi also took a Metro ride after he cut the inaugural ribbon at the rail network's Palarivatom station.
The Prime Minister addressed a gathering of thousands of his supporters, greeting them in Malayalam and referred to Kochi as the "queen of the Arabian Sea".
"The city's population has been rising steadily and is expected to reach 23 lakhs by 2021. Therefore, a mass rapid transport system is essential to address the increasing pressure on urban infrastructure. This will also contribute to Kochi's economic growth," said Modi.
He said the metro project with several significant features was the first to be commissioned with a modern "Communication Based Train Control Signalling System".
"The coaches reflect the 'Make in India' vision. They have been built by Alstom of France, at their factory near Chennai, and have an Indian component of around 70 per cent."
Modi said another "noteworthy aspect" of the project is that nearly "1,000 women and 23 transgenders are being selected to work in the Kochi Metro Rail System".
The project is also an example of an environment friendly development as nearly 25 per cent of the entire energy requirements would be met from renewable sources, particularly solar energy.
"The long-term plan is to become a zero-carbon emitting urban transit system. Every sixth pillar of the metro system will have a covered vertical garden, which will substantially use urban solid waste," the Prime Minister said.
Modi underlined the need to bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning in India which could be done by adopting a "people-centric approach, and integrating land-use and transport".
"The government of India issued a National Transit Oriented Development Policy in April 2017. This policy seeks to transform cities, from being transit dependent to being transit oriented. It aims to create compact walkable communities and bring public transport closer to transit."
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu said it was the fastest developed metro completed in a record time of 45 months.
The 13-km long railway line has 22 stations from Palarivatom and Aluva.
The metro will start commercial operations from Monday.
The completion of the remaining section of the 25-km line is expected to take another two years.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state and central governments have been working together for the overall development of Kerala and have a good working relationship.
"When the time came to decide on whom to inaugurate this dream project of Kerala, we had no doubt and we wrote to the Prime Minister's Office.
"Now that the PM has come and dedicated it to the nation, all those who tried to stir a controversy over the inauguration might be feeling at a loss. None can ever forget the role played by Sreedharan who turned the dream of Kerala into a reality," said Vijayan.