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Walking back my arguments against the Light Metro


The proposal for the Light metro will follow the same track as the first proposed Monorail.

In view of the Kochi Metro being inaugurated with much fanfare, as well as E Sreedharan’s comments on the light metro project in Kozhikode, I’ve decided to review my position.

My basic argument against the Light Metro was that there are basic infrastructural issues that remain unaddressed, so the government could do better and spend the ₹2,000 crores allocated for the light metro on rectifying these issues, I had argued. I should, have, in hindsight, found something wrong when I found myself in agreement with veterans of Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.

The argument I made was not a most convincing argument, but I made it nonetheless. In retrospect, I would modify my argument thus: While the Light metro would greatly benefit the citizens of Kozhikode, there are governance issues that have to be solved at the earliest. These are basic governance issues that a local self government which is barely competent would have solved. Sadly, Kozhikode has has witnessed a complete breakdown in governance over the past 15 years.

One of the basic problems that remain unsolved to this day is the lack of proper waste disposal mechanism. This has been a issue that has been haunting Kozhikode ever since the pollution of Njalyanparambu, where a Corporation dumping ground existed, came to light. A variety of solutions — from using shredded plastic as material for roads, and a plastic reprocessing center in West Hill — which were proposed have failed spectacularly. The recent agitation by Kudumbasree workers points to the deteriorating situation in governance.

 The State government would do well to identify a solution or at the least, attempt to find one. There many such basic issues that the corporation has failed to solve; a premier on those are more than necessary, so that they can be rectified at the earliest.

However, it seems that the state government has other priorities at the moment, and is least bothered by these issues. The lack of a proper economic base in Kerala — something that I’ve pointed out multiple times is also something that should ideally worry the government. But it seems the Government is more interested in building theaters.

On a serious note, the Kerala Government seems to think that by funding “World-Class” Transportation Infrastructure, it can drive private investment to the state. While the spending on the infra is sorely needed for the state, without removing the choke holds Kerala has evolved over the course of the past 60 years on private investment, one cannot expect to move forward. There seems to be little movement on this front.

The Kerala government should ideally concentrate on developing a basic urban infrastructure before going for something as expensive as light metro, but since this isn’t an ideal world, one should accept what one gets, and I’m happy that Kozhikode may get a light metro.


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