My thoughts go back to May 18, 2011. The day the UDF government took charge in Kerala for five years as mandated by the people. We were not worried about our wafer thin majority in the Assembly. Our sole focus was on how to transform Kerala into a role model in Kerala. And that was why we did not waste any time to kick-start developmental programmes with futuristic impact for Kerala. We had our task cut out. There were mega projects to be revived and dream projects to be kicked off. The government performed like a well-oiled machine. Project schedules were monitored periodically and progress reviewed in a timely manner. While we gave a new lease of life to SmartCity Kochi that had lost a great deal of steam, we also launched some mega infrastructure projects like the Kochi Metro, Vizhinjam International Seaport, Kannur International Airport and Light Metro projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Lack of modern-day infrastructure, especially in transport was the one that had been plaguing Kerala for sometime. It discouraged investors from pitching their tents in Kerala, though the S t a t e has qualified hands to meet their business needs. Our first mission was to provide a fresh impetus to the works of SmartCity Kochi. The project that made a beginning in 2007 got entangled in administrative delays and unnecessary controversies. The UDF government took the much-needed initiative a n d i r o n e d o u t a l l differences with TECOM I nve st m e n t s D u b a i and paved the way for starting the construction in July 2013. And in 2016, we made the first phase of 22 lakh sq ft ready for occupation. An integrated digital smart city and IT special economic zone, on full completion by 2020, SmartCity Kochi will have a total built-up area of 88 lakh sq ft on 246 acres of land and will provide 90,000 direct jobs.
It will take the global standing of Kerala to a new high and will attract many international companies specializing in the technology sector. Though serving as the commercial hub of the State, Kochi has been struggling to have physical connectivity in place to match the pace of development being envisioned for it. It is a city that grows vertically and it needs an out-of-the-box solution. Metro Rail was one and we went ahead with its works in June 2013. From the day of piling to the placement of the first girder to the trial run of coaches on 23 January 2016; it has been a saga of conviction, determination and outstanding teamwork by the personnel of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd, spearheaded by the country’s metro man Shri E Sreedharan of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. Some days prior to the country’s 67th Republic Day, Kerala opened a new chapter in development. The successful trial run of Kochi Metro on 23 January, 2016 signaled the beginning of a new era of development, marked b y infrastructure growth.
It is only the seventh metro railway system to run in the country. It has also earned the distinction of becoming the fastest completed metro rail project in the country. When work started on 7 June 2013, I had said that it would be completed in 1095 days. But in just 958 days, we have conducted the trial run. The Kerala Piravi day on 1st November 2016 will witness the full-fledged run of Kochi Metro, making it a memorable gift to the people of Kerala. S t e p p i n g o n t h e p e d a l o f acceleration, we also made significant progress with regard to the Vizhinjam International Seaport. The project that was mooted 25 years ago and faltered thrice at the stage of tendering, eventually took off with the signing of MoU with Adani Ports and SEZ on 17 August 2015. The project reached its next milestone when the foundation stone was laid on 5 December 2015. Adani Group is all set to complete the first phase of the project by September 1, 2018. It will become yet another mega project of Kerala that can be proudly presented before the country. And if the political will and support continues, I have no doubt that the project can be completed in 1000 days as promised by Adani Ports. Keralites can be proud of one thing. They have for the first time supported wholeheartedly a government that was willing to go the extra mile in delivering what the State was missing for several years. And that was development. We have made a beginning in that regard and we earnestly desire to keep the momentum going in the years to come.