Kochi Metro rail review meet ends in a fiasco

Work plagued by shortage of labour, delay in land acquisition

Kochi: A high-level meeting held here on Monday to review the progress of Kochi Metro works ended as a washout.

The meeting chaired by Minister for Power and Railways Aryadan Mohammed concluded after ratifying a decision taken earlier this month by metro stakeholders to commence pre-monsoon cleaning of drains and resurfacing potholed roads in the metro corridor. These works are already underway, despite frequent summer rains.

Pre-monsoon works done in 2014 for Rs 1.65 crore were not very effective since the works were done hurriedly at the last moment, Mr Mohammed told the media.

Project review

“Though project review to address concerns about slow pace of metro works was on the agenda, it was not done. With Monday’s meeting ending as a washout, another meeting would have to be convened for that,” a metro official said.

Issues of inordinate delay in land acquisition beyond Maharaja’s College Ground up to Tripunithura and traffic snarls along metro corridor were not discussed. Most of the land needed for the first reach has been acquired.

Metro sources said that about a dozen plots have been acquired in Vyttila-Pettah corridor, while acquisition in Jos Junction-Ernakulam Junction railway station-Manorama Junction stretch will begin shortly. Tender to widen the Vyttila-Pettah Road into four lanes will be floated later this week.

Labour shortage

Responding to a question on shortage of labourers slowing down metro’s civil works, Mr Mohammed said that the project needed a total workforce of 4,500 people and there was shortage of 1,500 labourers. Both KMRL and DMRC had expressed apprehension about labour shortage slowing down works.

On whether the metro would be commissioned by the June 2016 deadline, Mr Mohammed said, “We are confident of adhering to the target. Civil works are expected to conclude by December this year, the revised deadline. The pace of metro’s works is fast compared to similar projects undertaken in Kerala.”

On problems posed by frequent leaks in Kerala Water Authority’s water pipelines that are hampering metro works, Mr Mohammed said that such issues will be solved. “The District Collector and City Police Commissioner have been asked to take up the matter with KWA officials.”