The Kerala Budget has focused itself on investing in “high class infrastructure” to be engines of growth. A variety of projects are to be developed under the reliable stewardship of the KIIFB, including Highways, Stadiums and Elephant Rehabilitation Centers.
One of the main projects mooted for urban infrastructure is the Light Metro Projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvanathapuram.
(From my understanding of Thiruvanathapuram as well, I believe these observations made in the context of Kozhikode, are applicable to Thiruvanathapuram as well.)
A metro rail project was first mooted in 2010, which was later converted into a monorail and then the current Light Metro Project. A detailed project report has already been submitted to the Government, and is proposed to connect the Kozhikode Airport (which is half an hour from the city’s outskirts) to the city as well as connecting the Kozhikode Bus Stand and Railway station.
The Budget has allocated 2,500 crores for the same, while the source for the rest of the funding is yet to finalised, with the state proposing to receive it from the Central Government.
While I surely welcome the interest in developing Kozhikode, I believe that the project’s viability and necessity is more than questionable. In my opinion, the project does not address the problems in transportation within the city, and goes on in an attempt to circumvent it. The project will definitely add to the prestige of the city, and may, as the city grows (as anticipated, or hoped by me) price useful. But at the moment, seems to be unnecessary, considering the pitiful nature of the Road Infrastructure.
In fact, the proposal to expand one of the few roads where a traffic jam occurs, have not been allocated any fundingthough mentioned in the state budget.
The reason the metro was deemed nonviable was the lower population and (comparatively) lower density. Which was then converted to a monorail, then changed into a light metro so as to reduce the cost overruns.
Kozhikode rarely suffers from the sort of constant traffic jams that Kochi or any other metropolitan city faces. The issues faced by the city are more a result of lack of foresight than anything else, as well as the paralysis that has affected the Corporation are more in-the-face, ground reality. The issues faced with respect to public transportation can easily be solved.
The First issue is the shoddy maintenance and tearing up the roads every other day by the KWA & The Corporation etc. etc. There needs to be actual foresight to these plans. A permanent underground sewage and utilities are necessary.
Secondly, the public urban transport system consisting of private buses needs reform. The restrictions on Bus Routes inside the corporation limits should be abolished.
Thirdly, private A/C buses should be allowed to operate within city limits.
Fourthly, there needs to be creation of bus bays and bus shelters in the city.
With these basic changes/projects, the city’s Transportation problems will easily be solved. Rather than propping up this plan, I believe the government would do better to invest it in more reasonable sectors that will ideally drive growth