Kochi: The central government is likely to give approval for the second phase of the Kochi Metro before the state Assembly polls, sources indicate.
The second phase of the Metro is from the Kaloor international stadium till Infopark in Kakkanad. The Centre is also looking into certain projects of other states, where polls are scheduled to be held along with Kerala this year.
The second phase development project of the Kochi Metro was submitted years ago. It got delayed as no political decision was taken. The State has been exerting pressure at the official-level. Senior officials have been tasked with this.
If the project gets approval, the BJP too plans to play up the BJP government's development agenda for poll campaigning.
As per the new norms, only cities with a population of more than 10 lakh should be allowed Metro. In such a scenario, the phase II of Kochi Metro is unlikely to get approval. Based on this, the Centre had sent back the Kochi Metro second phase project, instructing to look for alternative methods.
Kerala has informed that this was not a new project, but just an extension of the current phase.
Instead of the Metro line, the Centre has suggested tram projects such as the Metro Lite. However, Metro Lite would be less-expensive only when started as a new project.
KMRL MD Alkesh Kumar Sharma said that the Metro would be relatively cheaper for Kochi. The current trains can be used for the second phase as well. Also, the current system can be continued in all matters such as signal and communication. If it is a new system, then everything has to be started from the scratch. This would only increase the expenses, he pointed out.