The White Elephant in the making

Before the XIX Commonwealth Games in 2010, anyone reading the newspaper would have gotten the idea that the Delhi Organizing Committee was very much behind schedule. With only a few months to go, the works were all half-completed and a lot of newspaper reporters had raised a doubt that it would be near impossible to finish the works in time. Well, the fears were unfounded and the Delhi Commonwealth games began splendidly and went off smoothly until the end.

One of the biggest attractions of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games was the newly constructed Delhi Metro. People, including foreigners, who came to the Commonwealth Games were able to seamlessly move from one venue to another. Most of the lines were constructed on overhead piles and one line ran underground. Among these Delhi Metro lines, people swiftly moved across from one place to another, where otherwise it would not have been possible.

In Kochi, Metro Rail is being constructed; and it is entrusted with the same people who constructed the Delhi Metro. Roads are being clogged due to the placement of big concrete piles on the middle of the road with associated heavy equipment, men, and materials. This has resulted in the traffic being clogged to an unacceptable level. This work is expected to be finished in about a few months’ time before the service is scheduled to be open. Deo Volente, trains will ply overhead Kochi’s roads in 2016. But I am not too enthusiastic about its prospects.

Kochi is comparatively small compared to a city like Delhi. The proposed first phase will ply between Aluva and Petta in Tripunithura in a 24-km stretch. I do not think there would be too many takers for it in the beginning. The metro first phase should have started from the Kochi International Airport which is still a few kilometers away from Aluva. Without it, the very purpose of this overhead rapid transit system is defeated. Anyone coming to Ernakulam City will not be too enthusiastic to pay premium rates for the Kochi Metro. They can use current public transport for the few kilometers that they intend to take. Currently, someone coming to the airport finds it difficult to reach the city or the nearby railway station, and this issue will still remain unsolved.

Kochi Metro in its first phase is only a single line, unlike the Delhi Metro which crisscrosses the city with its six lines. In its current form, it does not appear to offer any superior mode of transport than we already have. Kochi Metro has to begin at the Kochi International Airport. And until it does, there is a chance that it will remain a ‘white elephant’ gobbling up precious resources.

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