PM Narendra Modi to flag off Kochi Metro today, take inaugural ride
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the maiden run of the Kochi Metro on Saturday, and will also take a ride on one of the trains in the fastest-built Metro in the country.
The Prime Minister is expected to share the dais with the Metro’s main architect E Sreedharan, whose name is doing the rounds as a possible nominee for India’s next President.
Arriving in a special aircraft at the Kochi Naval Base, Modi will proceed to Palarivattom station to board the Metro to Pathadipplam and will return to Palarivattom. Then he will proceed to Kaloor international stadium, the venue of the inaugural ceremony.
The Kochi Metro is the first public transport system to reserve jobs for members of the third sex and it will be manned mainly by women from the Kudumbhasree Mission, a self-help group. Among 30-odd Metro drivers, seven are women
The Metro has employed 23 transgenders in various departments based on their qualifications. Selected after a written test and interview, they were given three-month training. More workers from the community will be inducted after gauging their success, said Kerala Metro Rail Limited managing director Elias George.
“We are really excited. It will open a new window for us. With this, we hope other institutions and organisations open their doors for us,” said Raga Ranjini, a post-graduate who will be manning a ticket counter in one of the stations.
She said the Metro will help them earn respect and change the living conditions of the third sex.
It is also the county’s first fully integrated metro. With one ticket, a commuter can travel in feeder services along road and water.
Besides this, the Metro has installed solar panels atop all stations to tap green energy. Once fully operational, the Metro’s entire power demand will be met by these panels.
In the first phase, trains will operate for a distance of 13 km – Aluva to Palarivattom. There are 11 stations in the 13-km stretch that will be covered in 20 minutes. Later, it will be extended to Maharajas College.
Construction for the first phase began in 2012 after the Oommen Chandy government entrusted the work to the DMRC with Sreedharan as its principal advisor.
The project had its share of controversies too. Earlier, there was an attempt to inaugurate the project while the Prime Minister was out of the country. When it snowballed into a big issue, the Kerala government retracted.
The state government had protested a few days back when the guest list for the inaugural session was cut short by the PMO. Later, Sreedharan was included in the guest list on the dais. However, Sreedharan, popularly known as the Metro Man, downplayed the issue.
The Metro also threw a sumptuous treat for its 800-odd employees, mainly labourers from the north-eastern states who worked in the project for the last three years.
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