Express News Service
KOCHI: The first set of boats under the Kochi Water Metro will begin operations by the end of this month. Commercial services will be launched first on the Vyttila-Kakkanad route. While the route has been finalised, the rates are awaiting approval.“The work on boats, pontoons, terminals, signalling and telecommunication and all related packages have been progressing well. The operations on the first route, Vyttila to Kakkanad, will start by the end of this month,” said Alkesh Kumar Sharma, whose term as the managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) ended on Wednesday.
He has been posted as additional secretary in the Union Cabinet Secretariat. The first boat jetty — at Vyttila — for the `747-crore Water Metro project was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in February. Under the project being implemented with the support of the German Development Bank, KfW, a total of 23 boats with a carrying capacity of 100 passengers and 55 boats with a capacity of carry 50 passengers will be rolled out in the Kochi backwaters in the first phase. A total of 38 jetties will also be modernised.
Kochi Metro extension
Sharma said the Phase I extension of the Kochi Metro — from Pettah to SN Junction — is planned to be completed by the end of the year, and the stretch from SN Junction to Tripunithura by March 2022.
“Work on most of the Cochin Smart Mission projects are in the final stages. Many, including the Integrated Control and Command Centre, were already commissioned. Every project has a different timeline depending on its current status, but I would like to state that they are on schedule and will be completed on time,” he said. The French agency, AfD, has already given in-principle approval to fund the Phase II of Kochi Metro — to Kakkanad. Work will be launched officially as soon as the Centre gives its nod.
Industrial Corridor work to gather pace
Sharma was also in charge of the Kochi-Palakkad Industrial Corridor project, which is among the fastest developing industrial corridor projects in the country. While the land acquisition process is in full swing, with nearly 350 acres already taken, work on the master plan too is progressing fast, so as to complete it by July 2021. “An SPV has already been formed to manage the project and the state government has signed the necessary agreements with the Government of India,” he said.
Most of these packages were planned, tendered and launched over the past 18 months, he added. Sharma said the acquisition of 1,878 acres in Palakkad is in an advanced stage. “The process for the acquisition of 500 acres of land for Global City is also going on. As most of the revenue staff were put on election duty, the progress was a bit slow but it should pick up as the polls are over,” he said.
GIFT City proceeding as planned
Work on the master planning for the GIFT City project — coming up on 220 hectares at Ayyampuzha near Aluva — is also progressing simultaneously. The project is expected to create over 1.2 lakh direct and 3.6 lakh indirect employment opportunities.
“It is being developed as a knowledge city with R&D, hi-tech, hospitality, banking and finance-related activities. This will be developed as an eco-friendly, sustainable city without any polluting industries there,” he said.Sharma said the projects should proceed as per plan as most of the activities related to planning, design and, in some cases, tendering has been completed.