Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday dedicated the first phase of Kochi Metro to the nation and also took the inaugural ride with dignitaries, including Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. 'Metro man' E Sreedharan, Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gouba, Kerala Chief Secretary Nalini Netto and and KMRL MD Elias George also traveled with the Prime Minister during his maiden journey in Kochi Metro on a 13 km stretch between Aluva and Palarivattom.
The service will, however, begin its Revenue operations on June 19, Monday from 6am onwards.
Addressing the inaugural function, Modi stressed the need to bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning by adopting a people-centric approach and integrating land use and transport.
"Over the last three years, my government has placed special focus on overall infrastructural development of the nation," Modi said.
"In Pragati meetings, I have personally reviewed nearly 175 projects worth more than Rs 8 lakh crore and resolved bottlenecks," he said, referring to his ambitious multi- purpose and multi-modal platform PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation).
Modi said his government was also focussing on next generation infrastructure, which includes logistics, digital and gas.
The prime minister, who began his speech in Malayalam, said he was happy to be part of the inauguration of the Kochi Metro.
"I congratulate the people of Kochi on the proud moment," he said.
Kochi, the queen of the Arabian Sea, was once an important spice trading centre. Today it was known as commercial capital of Kerala, the prime minister said.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is a 50-50 joint venture of the Centre and the state government.
The Centre has so far released over Rs 2,000 crore for the project. The coaches reflected 'Make in India' vision.
They have been built by Alstom near Chennai and have an Indian component of around 70 per cent, he said.
In a tweet shortly after he completed a ride in the Metro, Modi said that it was a "futuristic infrastructure that will contribute to India's growth".
Considered the fastest completed metro project in the country, Kochi Metro, the flagship transportation infrastructure project of Kerala, will start its regular operations from June 19.
Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, Ernakulam MP K V Thomas, Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain and 'Metro Man' E Sreedharan were among those present at the inaugural function.
Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation of the project on September 13, 2012 and the construction began in June, 2013 during the tenure of the previous Congress-led UDF government headed by Oommen Chandy, who was conspicuous by his absence today.
The estimated completion cost of the Kochi Metro is Rs 5,181.79 crore.
The new transport system is expected to enhance the quality of life for the Greater Kochi metro area by improving regional connectivity and reducing overcrowding, traffic congestion.
Kochi Metro inauguration LIVE updates:
* PM Narendra Modi takes a ride in Kochi Metro with CM Pinarayi Vijayan, V Naidu and E Sreedharan
* PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Kochi Metro
Claimed to be the country's first integrated multi-model transport system, it is expected to improve regional connectivity and ease the traffic congestion in Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala.