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We have gathered here today to celebrate the start of implementation of Kochi Metro, a project which would make commuting easier for lakhs of residents of this great city. I compliment the Chief Minister, Shri Oomen Chandy, the Government of Kerala and my Cabinet colleague Shri Kamal Nath and his team who have pursued this project with enthusiasm and solid commitment.
Kochi is the commercial capital of Kerala and one of the fastest growing urban agglomerations in our country. Cochin has emerged as one of our most important ports, and with the operationalisation of the International Container Trans-shipment Terminal at Vallarpadam, we expect Kochi to evolve as a very important economic and logistical hub.
I also understand that a number of big projects in and around Kochi are on the anvil. Under JNNURM, the Central government has sanctioned six projects at a total cost of over Rs. 509 crore, out of which the Central share will be more than Rs. 254 crore.
All this will hasten the pace of development in this whole region. Kochi’s transport infrastructure is already under severe stress, with the demand for travel having risen steeply in recent years. The Metro would provide this area with a modern mass transport system, not only making it convenient for the residents to commute, but also further facilitating Kochi’s overall social and economic development.
Kochi will be the 8th Indian city with a Metro network under construction. The newly-sanctioned Kochi metro line will run 25 km from Alwaye to Petta. This project will cost more than Rs 5180 crore, out of which the Central government’s share will be about Rs 1000 crore.
At present, about 30 percent of our people live in towns and cities. By the year 2031 this proportion is expected to go up more than 40 percent, amounting to at least 60 crore people and contributing more than 70 percent of the GDP of the country. The high speed of urbanization poses unprecedented managerial and policy challenges that we must address and respond to with courage and with determination.
Unless provisioning of services keeps pace with urbanization, we will face serious problems of haphazard urban growth, slums and crumbling city infrastructure all-round.
An efficient public transport system, therefore is a service that is critical to the orderly growth and development of India’s cities. It helps us meet challenges like traffic congestion, air pollution and the high rates of accidents on roads. However, Metro rail is just one component of an efficient public transport system. We need to build in our cities multimodal transport systems that efficiently integrate different modes of public transport like buses and trains. I understand that the Urban Development Ministry has taken several initiatives to promote sustainable transport practices in our country. These include support to Metro Rail Projects, Bus Rapid Transit Systems and sanction of city buses under the JNNURM.
We have taken a decision to support preparation of Detailed Project Reports for Metro Rail projects in all the 19 cities with population of more than 2 million people. Detailed Project Reports for such projects have already been prepared for 12 cities.
Metro Rail projects are currently under implementation in 7 Indian cities. These would cover a network of length 476 km at a cost of more than Rs 1.15 lakh crore. The Delhi Metro is under operation carrying about 22 lakh people every day, and I take this opportunity to pay my tribute to Shri Sreedharan, the great entrepreneur that he is, and may his example fire the imagination of younger people all over our country.
The Central government is also providing assistance for implementation of Bus Rapid Transit System projects in 11 cities with a network of over 437 km at a cost of more than Rs 5500 crore.
Under JNNURM we have sanctioned over 15,000 low floor and semi-low floor buses for mission cities at a total cost of over Rs 4700 crore. Two hundred buses have been sanctioned for Kochi alone. The Central government has committed over Rs 2000 crore of assistance for the JNNURM buses.
I am very happy that the State government is doing everything possible for the development of this great city which has a proud history. Our UPA government has supported and added to these efforts of the state government and we will continue to do so in future as well.
I hope the Kochi Metro Rail Corporation, which is a joint venture company of the Central and State governments, will build the Metro efficiently, and will produce a rail network of the highest quality in the quickest possible time. I extend my best wishes for the successful completion of this very prestigious project. It is my sincere expectation that with numerous important projects being planned and implemented in and around this great city, the future will see Kochi as one of the best urban centres of the world. That is my ambition. That is also my prayer.
I thank you. Jai Hind.