Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has cleared the air surrounding the Kochi Metro's launch, by stating that the inaugural ceremony of the rail will not be held on May 30 as announced earlier, and also stressed that the date will be decided only according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convenience.

“Reports regarding the inauguration of Kochi Metro on May 30 are incorrect. The government has not fixed a date to launch the metro services. The Prime Minister was sent an invitation on April 11. Though no reply has been received so far, the government is hoping that the PM will devote time for us amid his busy schedule. The state government is maintaining constant communication with the PM’s office in this regard,” Pinarayi said.

Earlier in the day, controversy erupted after state tourism and co-operation minister Kadakampally Surendran said the inauguration will be held on May 30 and CM Pinarayi will inaugurate it, if PM Modi cannot make it to the function.

Also read: Kochi Metro inauguration: 5 things you should know

BJP's Kerala leaders lashed out against the decision of fixing the date before getting any kind of confirmation from the Prime Minister. The BJP alleged that decision to conduct the inauguration on May 30 was taken even after it was informed that PM Modi will be on a European visit from May 29 to June 3.

Terming Kadakampally's announcement as mix-­up, Pinarayi said the inauguration date will be finalised only in accordance with the PM's office.

“Only if the PM’s office informs us about his unavailability, the government will think about other options. Until then, we will wait for a date convenient to the PM,” the Kerala CM said.

Kochi Metro had started service trials 10 dags ago, after securing the green signal from rail safety panel. Though Phase I runs from Aluva to Petta, the opening this month will see the train service operating only on the 13­ km stretch from Aluva to Palarivattom. There are 11 stations in this route, and it will take the train just 20 minutes to cover it. 

Also read: Kerala takes a step forward hires, 23 transgenders for Kochi Metro

The service will be operated from 5 am to 10 pm, and there will be a train every 10 minutes. The minimum fare will be Rs 10. Every train will have three coaches, with each one having a seating capacity of 136. One train can accommodate 975 passengers in total. 

Phase II extension gets the green light

The Kerala government on Wednesday gave the nod for extension of Phase II of Kochi Metro from Kaloor stadium to Kakkanad Infopark, which is estimated to cost Rs 2,577 crore. 

A decision in this regard was taken at the State Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The extension will be from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor to Infopark via Kakkanad, a government press release said.