March 2018
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UDF protest over DMRC pulling out of metro projects
(Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 9, 2018): The pulling out of DMRC from two Light Metro Projects (LMPs) in the State Friday found its echo in the state assembly with the Opposition alleging that the government was "deliberately keeping away" the company from transport schemes.

UDF members led by its leader Ramesh Chennithala walked out of the House slamming the government on the matter.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government had not shown any disrespect to E Sreedharan, Principal Adviser DMRC.

Sreedharan had said that the decision to pull out from LMPs was taken following the "reluctance" of the Left-led Kerala government to sign the turnkey consultancy agreement for the preparatory works of the system.

Vijayan, however, said the government had always recognised Sreedharan's expertise and role in building infrastructure in the country. Stating that the government was committed to go ahead with the Light Metro Projects (LMPs) in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, the chief minister clarified that the state wanted to begin the project after getting clearance from the Centre.

"The only differences between the state government and Sreedharan was that the government wanted to start the projects after getting Centre's clearance, but the 'Metroman' (Sreedharan) was of the opinion that works for the projects could be started even before getting sanction," he said. The state could not go ahead with the projects without Centre's clearance as it involved financial liability, he said.

Referring to Sreedharan's remark at a press meet, which the UDF-led Opposition raised in the House, that the chief minister did not give an audience for discussing the projects, Vijayan admitted that he could not meet the official due to some engagements."But that is not due to any disrespect to him. I am ready to meet Sreedharan again," he added.

The new metro policy of the Centre had forced the state to make changes in the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the LMPs and the revised one is under the examination of a committee headed by the Finance Secretary. The DPR would be submitted to Centre after the state government approved it, Vijayan said.

Hitting out at the Kerala government over the issue, Chennithala said the exclusion of DMRC and E Sreedharan from the projects would lead to corruption. He also questioned the state government's move to float global tenders for the project procurement. Chennithala wanted Vijayan to hold talks with Sreedharan and sort out the problems and engage DMRC for implementing the projects.

Congress leader K Muraleedharan, who sought leave for the motion, reminded the CPI(M) of the human-chain agitation held by them in support of Sreedharan and DMRC during the previous UDF rule when reports came that there was a move to avoid Sreedharan from Kochi Metro Project.

The total estimated cost of the 22.5 km Thiruvananthapuram LMP and the 13.33 KM Kozhikode project is about Rs 7,000 crore.

Sreedharan (85) was the key architect of the state's Kochi metro project which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. He is popularly known as the Metro Man for his work in transforming public transport in the country, particularly his work with the Delhi Metro.(PTI)

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