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A Study conducted as part of the Planning Studio-I (September 2015)

Under the guidance of
Prof.T.M.Vinod Kumar, Former Dean of Studies, SPA, New Delhi,
Mr. Bimal.P, Assistant Professor, & Mr. Shashikanth, Faculty of NIT, Calicut
Ar. Asha Devadas, Ashikha Raoof, Ar.Fathim Rashna Kallingal, Anu Paul, Sai Priya
M.Plan (Urban Planning)- Pursuing
Department of Architecture
National Institute of Technology, Calicut
Urban planning is intricately knit with political systems that influence governance as planning for growth of
society goes through a process, which involves a large number of agencies and a significant number of people of
power. Politics of urban planning deals with delving deep into reasons that cause various influential bodies to act
as a catalyst to initiate or stall schemes and projects initiated by the government for any kind of regional and
urban development. These bodies act on behalf of the people at large and try to remedy the current issues that
affect people. But it can be observed from this study that each sect of such powerful bodies have their own
agendas which are veiled from the general public. Such reticence is brought into light by various media
organizations in the form of news which has emerged as one the most powerful tools to impact the minds of people
and made a significant leap in making voices from every corner of society be heard. Hence it is essential to
understand how certain activities by specific groups of people can affect the government policies and activities
and to seek solutions to resolve the issues in an efficient and simple way.
Keywords: Politics; City Planning; Urban Planning; Light metro; Monorail; Print Media; Governance

1. Introduction
The world urbanisation is increasing at a steep rate due to the various opportunities it offers. This has
led to various transportation related issues such as increasing traffic volume, congestion on roads,
inefficient public transport. New technologies were developed from time to time in order to address
these issues. Metro rails, light metro, monorails, sky bus, trams, bus rapid systems are examples of such
technologies, which are being used worldwide. Kerala is witnessing a steady and steep increase in
urbanisation and is facing transport issues in its major cities, which are Cochin, Calicut and
Trivandrum. After the success of Delhi Metro, the Union Urban Development Ministry decided to
consider the proposal for a metro for Kozhikode city. National Transportation and Research Centre
(NATPAC) together with Kerala Road Fund Board carried out the preliminary feasibility for the project
in December 2008. Based on this report, Bangalore based consultants; M/s. Wilber Smith Associates
was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting further studies based on which proposal for
Monorail was suggested for Kozhikode. However the monorail project had a lone bidder, Bombardier
Transportation Holdings USA Inc., which quoted double the estimated cost of Rs.1,991 crores. Hence
the monorail project was scrapped and in 2010, Light Metro was proposed which would run from
Karipur Airport to Kozhikode Medical College through the heart of the city covering a stretch of 32.6

At the time of inception of Metro for Kozhikode in 2008, the political coalition that was ruling the
Kerala State Government was the Left Democratic Front (LDF). The feasibility study was entrusted to
M/s. Wilber Smith Associates by Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) in 2009 and the report was
submitted in 2010. The KRFB then entrusted the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) to
prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the first phase of the monorail project in March 2012.
During this period, a change of ministry after the elections of 2011, United Democratic Front
Government (UDF) emerged as the ruling Party. The State Cabinet then decided to form a special
purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, and
administrative sanction was given in October 2012. After the project was scrapped, Light Metro was
proposed towards the end of 2013. The reasons behind the switch from Monorail to Light Metro have
been unclear and uncanny because the DMRC, headed by Mr. E. Sreedharan, had stated Monorail as a
more viable option for the city of Kozhikode after analysing the PHPDT (peak hour per direction
traffic) for Kozhikode in 2030 would be just 5,475.
Currently, it is seen now that the Kerala cabinet has approved the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of
Light Metro transport schemes proposed for Thiruvanathapuram and Kozhikode, estimated to cost Rs
6,728 crores. However there has been a considerable delay in the implementation of the project, which
has caused a heavy monetary loss. Therefore it is important to study the causes behind such problems
that have risen due to politics at various levels in the governing system, as the entire process of planning
is futile if it doesnt reach or benefit the public at the right time.
To study and understand the politics of Urban Planning and how they affect overall city development
To understand the viewpoints of political parties and various stakeholders on one of the Kozhikode
city development project namely Kozhikode Monorail (Kozhikode Light Metro).
Attempt to device strategies to implement project for public good.
The study was done in four parts, namely background research, literature review, case study, and
analysis and conclusion.
Readings were done for the general understanding of Kerala politics, focusing on various aspects such
as the general behaviour of the governance, the nature of elections and the results, democratic planning
adopted in the state etc.
The various aspects of Monorail and Light metro were studied. Background research on the project
Kozhikode Monorail (Light Metro) was done based on the available data in the Detailed Project Report
(DPR) submitted by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRC)
An attempt was made to identify some of the successful city development projects within the country
and around the world, the issues faced due to the politics involved and the strategies adopted to resolve
the same. Along with these, the role of media in (mis)leading the people was also studied.

CASE STUDY- Kozhikkode Monorail (Light Metro)

Timeline of the project was prepared for the time period of Aug 2013 to Aug 2015, from the news/data
collected from various newspaper dailies, including English newspapers such as the Hindu, The Indian
Express, and Regional language newspapers such as Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi and
Deshabhimani, and other articles related to the project. The content analysis of these newspapers was
done to understand how the media has influenced the project implementation.
Various stakeholders of the project were identified from the collected data and their views and opinion
regarding the project were analysed.
The causes for delay in the project at levels of all the stakeholders and their role in the delay were
analysed. The advantages and disadvantages of the current system of planning and implementation of
city planning projects were detailed within a planners perspective. An attempt was done to propose
solutions and suggest strategies for implementation of any city development project within the current
Scope & Limitations
This project has been undertaken to study about politics of urban planning in the context of Kerala,
taking a case study of a city development project, which has been delayed due to some vague reasons.
These reasons are being identified and analysed. The study is limited to Kozhikode Monorail (Light
Metro) project. Due to the limitations of time, in collecting data from newspaper archives, the detailed
time-line preparation has been limited to the period of August 2013 to August 2015, though the project
was initiated in 2010. Nevertheless, the period before August 2013 has been briefly covered in the
introduction part of the project.
As politics of planning is studied in the context of one of the city development projects of Kozhikode,
Kerala during the governance by a particular political party, the analysis results may not be similar in
the scenario of governance by another political party. These might also vary outside the State. However
the conclusion and proposed solutions and suggested strategies could be adopted in Kerala State,
irrespective of the ruling political party.
2. Background Research
Kerala Political Scenario
The State of Kerala represents a unique political culture when compared to the other states in the Indian
Union. (Jacob, 2004). Initially when the State was formed in the year 1956, it was under the Presidents
rule. The Communist Party of India formed the first elected government of Kerala in 1957. But due to
political agitation and issues, the government was resolved in 1959, and Kerala state returned to
Presidents rule.
The second legislative assembly elections in 1960, experimented the first coalition government, where
in alliance of three parties namely the Congress, Praja Socialist Party and the Muslim League formed
the government. This was resolved in 1964 due to the no confidence motion against, put forward, and

the State came again under the Presidents rule. The subsequent elections in 1965 had no party with
majority votes, hence the Presidents rule continued for two more years.
The third general elections in 1967, experienced emergence of new political alliances, of which the new
united front of Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Muslim
League, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), the Karshaka Thozhilali Party and the Kerala Socialist
Party (KSP) came into power. By then the Communist party of India had split into CPI(M) and CPI. In
1969 political realignment took place and the ruling alliance comprised of CPI, the KSP, the Muslim
League, the RSP and the Kerala Congress.
After the fourth general elections in 1970, the ruling front consisted of the Indian National Congress,
the CPI, the RSP, the Muslim League and the Praja Socialist Party. That was the first time in Kerala,
since its formation; the government completing its ruling term of five years. The life of Assembly was
extended in three stages thus making the lifespan of 6 years, 5 months and 18 days.
The fifth general elections in 1977, the ruling front were a continuation of the previous office. This was
the first and the last time in the history of Keralas assembly elections, the same political front/alliance
came into power twice continuously. But the government was short-lived and got dissolved in 1979,
and Presidents rule was imposed. Political alignment in Kerala had then undergone a sea change
involving a drastic regrouping of major political parties. (http://kerala.gov.in/), the formulation of two
major political combines namely the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front
Kerala was ruled by the LDF in 1980, and after political realignment, by the UDF in 1981 and the State
fell into the Presidents rule in 1982 for the seventh time. During the seventh general elections in 1982,
the UDF Government assumed office. From that onwards, the UDF and the LDF Government, starting
by the UDF during 1982-1987 and presently by the UDF during 2011- 2016, ruled Kerala state every
five years alternatively, with an exception of the LDF Government in the eighth assembly that lasted for
four years from 1987 to 1991. Though there had been political realignments within the two political
fronts, Kerala was either ruled by the LDF or the UDF in general. The third major political front, the
Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged in Kerala during the eighth assembly elections in 1987. The BJP
has not come into power in the state of Kerala till today.
From the studies, we understand that coalition government started in Kerala from 1960 and in the
present scenario two major coalitions namely the LDF and the UDF has been part of the State
Governance either as the ruling party or the opposition party, that too alternatively. This predictable
political behaviour of the State, has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that,
since the subsequent election results are predictable, the then opposition party would be able to plan, in
advance, the city development projects to be implemented during their reign and preparations could be
done accordingly. However, it has the disadvantage that the ruling party takes up projects only that
could be completed in five years and if at all extend the projects get stalled. In the case of major

projects, the opposition party always tries to oppose the proposals, mainly to delay the projects so that
they get extended to their tenure and they would be able to take the credit.
We can also see that, though in a democratic country, the elected government represents the people, the
actual scenario is different. The people belonging to the ruling political party are being favoured. In
Britain a tradition has grown that whichever party wins the elections, it does, from that movement,
represent the interest of the whole nation, But in Indian democracy this principle is generally not
observed and the party that voted in favour is looked after by the government.(Mathew, 2000).
Democratic Planning (Peoples Planning) in Kerala
The Peoples Planning campaign in the state of Kerala was initiated as part of the 73rd and 74th
Constitutional Amendment Act, focusing on the devolution of powers to the local level of governance.
The role and importance of the Local bodies in the development of the areas were strengthened. The
Local bodies were given new powers and revived as a functional body. This campaign was initiated in
1996, by the LDF government, the ruling party then and was carried over by the successive ruling
parties. Various studies have been conducted regarding various aspects of decentralized planning in
Kerala, such as, evaluation of its impact and experience, the role of bureaucrats in the development as
part of democratic planning etc.
Most of the studies reveal that the peoples planning campaign has improved the then prevalent
condition of the state. Few studies have also suggested improvements in the system. There have also
been studies confronting the bureaucratic capture, thereby hindering participatory planning and delaying
project implementation. Even though the power of bureaucrats in the planning process existed before
the initiation of the peoples planning campaign in Kerala, they are being involved in the system even
now. The peoples planning programme in Kerala is under threat of a bureaucratic capture with
government orders and guidelines from above subduing the process of participatory planning.
(Harilal,2013). In the study, the author has suggested for strengthening participatory spaces and
restricting the involvement of the bureaucrats in the planning process, and for a clear division between
participation and administration to solve the problem of alienation of experts and make the system more
accountable. Instead of replacing experts and absolving them of responsibilities, participatory planning
should strive to make the maximum use of expertise within the government as well as outside without
compromising on the principles of accountability and responsiveness to the people (Harilal,2013).
Monorail Vs Light Metro
Most of Indias population living in urban areas has a need for extensive transportation infrastructure
like roads, railway lines, sidewalks, foot overbridged and cycle tracks, metro lines for easy
transportation. The best approach to strengthen the public transport system is to have better commuting
modes of transportation.
Monorail (form of MRTS-Mass Rapid Transit System) and metro system (form of LRTS- Light Rail
Transit System) are essentially graded and separated high capacity public transport systems in urban
areas. Metro rail is the highest in the hierarchy of public transport systems. (Institute of Urban Transport
(India)). It is a high-capacity system with a train with four to ten cars and carrying capacity up to

80,000 Per Hour per Direction Traffic (PHPDT). It is costly to build, operate and maintain.
Nonetheless, for corridors with a PHPDT of over 25 to 30 thousand, it is the only system which works.
Monorail is a sleek, elevated mass rapid transit system which operates on a single beam (normally
concrete) guide way and with rubber tiered wheels. It can be built to efficiently serve areas dominated
by high-rises and sharp turns and where metro rail cannot penetrate. Its traction system is typically750
volt DC. It can be configured to run as a driver less system. It is known to carry up to 15000 PHPDT.
Monorail is relatively used less in the world. Mumbai has provided the first monorail system in the
country and the metro was introduced in many countries including India. The Monorail can be provided
for an area with narrow width roads, high rises and sharp turns where metro cannot be penetrated.
LRTS has been specially developed to reach out for passengers commuting inside the city and so
stoppages are more than MRTS. LRTS trains are smaller in size and have lower speeds than MRTS.
The risks involved in these projects may be political, construction, Market and Revenue, Finance, Legal
and Operating risks at pre-development, development and operation stages.
The financial assistance of the project can be provided in different ways which are: Build, Operate &
Transfer (BOT) model in which the Government has no financial ability and all the risks are operated
by BOT operator, Public Private Partnership (PPP) which involve both the government and private
agencies, Fully through Government funding in which all the funds are mobilized through Government.
The financial risks are best borne by private sector but a substantial government risk is required either
through viability gap funding (VGF), revenue or debt guarantees or through participation by state or
multilateral development institutions. The PPP mode is normally a failure in such projects as it is
profited only in the long run, which would be a financial burden to the private sector and hence they are
forced to leave the project amidst.
3. Literature Review
City Planning around the world
Most of the successful city planning projects around the world had the involvement of the Government,
even at the local level, (eg. City Mayor), in planning considerably low or even nil. There are various
reasons for that. The local Government would be involved in various other activities including the socio
economic development of the city. Most big city mayors are not oriented to planning, especially to
long-range city planning. (Jacobs, 1980) They may not be technically qualified in the field of planning,
as the people considering other credentials elected them. Big city mayors and the interests that elect
them are more often attuned to quantity of urban development than to quality or to moderation. (Jacobs,
1980). The general public care about how much of the city development projects had been taken place
in the city and are least bothered whether they had been successful or not. As this reflects in the
selection of the Government in the subsequent election, the local government is more concerned about
increasing the quantity of city development projects under their governance. In the best of
circumstances, it is difficult for a mayor to be concerned in the long run, especially when he holds
office for four years and is besieged with problems that require immediate answers. (Jacobs, 1980). This

is applicable in the context of Kerala too. As discussed earlier, the government in the five years of their
run, would have lots of other issues of the public to be addressed that can be solved only by them, with
their strategically approach. Hence looking into the other part of the city development, which is mainly
physical, would be a tough job, especially with the very little knowledge they have in the field.
City planning under a commission can explore ways of implementing plans on their own, yet within the
framework of the government that establishes the planning department in the first place. (Jacobs, 1980).
In the context of Kerala, commission or a committee under the State planning board does the city
development projects, and consultants are appointed for special projects. But they lack proper
implementation strategies and involvement of public, which are few among the major reasons for the
failure of such projects. In San Francisco, the planning department and its commission acted as a
sounding board, an advocate, an initiator within government, another place for people to go, including a
place to complain about bad planning. (Jacobs, 1980). This has to be followed in Kerala state too. The
planning department should have highly qualified, trained and dedicated professional staff with
expertise in a number of areas of city planning. (Jacobs, 1980).
Considering the great Cleveland experiment (from late 1969 to 1979) as another example of city
development project, we can see that the planner along with his staff of professional planners, tried to
advocate progressive planning as a tool for equity planning. To play an effective role in the messy
world of urban politics, planners have to be professionally able, organizationally astute, and, most of all,
politically articulate (Krumholz & Forester, 1990). By politically articulate, the authors (planners)
meant, to anticipate the issues and threats the city would face, to expect the less involvement of the
politicians for the upbringing of the vulnerable population of the city, due to the orientation of their
interest to some other factors, and hence plan strategies and act accordingly to promote equity-oriented
work. As they worked with community leaders or mayoral advisors, with agency staff or specially
created single-issue task forces, the Cleveland planners were able to develop an articulate, largely
public, equity-oriented voice that integrated professional analysis and political initiative (Krumholz &
Forester, 1990).
Role of Media
Looking back to the history of the country, we can see the media, then in the form of newspapers,
playing an important role in shaping the public mind, especially in a democratic system. Keralas case is
also not different. Though the form of media has changed due to the advancement in technology, the
newspaper reading is one of the habits that the people of Kerala have still not given up. The amount of
various regional newspapers being circulated daily in Kerala reveals this. All the major political parties
in the State have their own newspapers and hence the public would be aware of the issues from different
viewpoints, and they have the liberty to choose or derive their own opinion.
The media also play an important role in distorting information, thereby weakening the democratic
planning. This is done either by exaggerating news or by misinformation. These are done as part of their
marketing strategy or due to their biased interest. Misinformation is a barrier to informed public

participation and an analysis of these barriers help citizens and planners alike to identify, anticipate and
overcome such obstacles to a democratic planning process. (Forester, 1989).
Various studies have been conducted to stress the impact of printed media on the Kerala society. In a
similar study, the researcher had studied about the role of press in strengthening the Liberation
Movement against the first Communist Government of the new Kerala state. The Press projected and
exaggerated minor incidents and made it sensational (Mathew, 2000). As discussed earlier, the
newspapers operated according to their interest groups. From the very birth of the first communist
ministry to its dooms day, various caste equations of Kerala played the game of making and breaking of
a government through the mouthpiece of newspapers. (Mathew, 2000). We can also see that this
particular behaviour of the Kerala newspapers continues till day, without any major changes. Kerala
operated as a paradigm to the increasing influence of printed text on the very socio-political scenario
proved beyond doubt, the boundless impact of press on society (Mathew, 2000).
4. Case Study- Kozhikode Monorail (Light Metro)
Kozhikode, an important city of the Malabar region is the third biggest Municipal Corporation in
Kerala. It is fast emerging as a prominent educational, commercial and trade centre. With an urban
population of 40% in the district and is constantly increasing, the travel demand has increased
tremendously. At present the private bus system and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation meet
the transportation needs of the city. But during the peak hours these systems are not able to contain the
traffic volume. Hence a feasibility study was done by NATPAC to explore various options to run an
efficient public transport system. The Government of Kerala decided to examine the possibility of
introducing a Monorail system in the city as it can negotiate very sharp curves and steep gradients and
also doesnt need widening of the roads. The most advanced Communication Based Train Control
system (CBTC) had been proposed for Kozhikode Monorail project with eight firms and fifteen halting
stations in a stretch of 14.2 kms from Medical College to Meenchanda in the year 2008. The final
feasibility report was submitted in the year 2010 by M/s.Wilber Smith and Associates to Kerala Road
Fund Board (KFRB) which is statutory body under Public Works Department (PWD) of Kerala. They
entrusted Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to submit a detailed report on the first phase of the
project. But only one company namely M/s. Bombardiar Transportation had come forward with an
expression of interest, which lead to retendering with some changes in the conditions. Later on due to
various reasons, the project was converted to an elevated MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) to
overcome the lack of interest from overseas firms dealing with MRTS. But the proposal for elevated
MRTS also scrapped and mooted for LRTS (Light Rail Transit System) to overcome the cost overrun
for monorail project as it is technically advanced and cheaper compared to the price quoted for financial
bid for the Monorail project. At present, the DPR prepared for the light metro by DMRC is awaiting
approval. The project is expected to take off as soon as the DPR is approved.

Timeline August 2013- August 2015

The project timeline has been prepared for the time period of August 2013 to August 2015 by collecting
news/data from various newspapers and other related articles.
2013 September:
Eight companies expressed interest in bidding the contract of the light metro project and the interested
companies were to source themselves part of the expenditure as loan.
2013 October:
DMRC official, Mr. E. Sreedharan stated that if land acquisition completed, the construction works for
the metro shall start in mid February 2014, the cost of project is about 1991 crores, and Phase 1 shall be
completed in 3 years and the phase 2 in another one year. The government order for the land acquisition
had been issued and expected to complete in two to three months.
Only one company had bidden the tender, namely M/s Bombardier transportation, a German based
company. Because of participation of only one company in bidding, and the interest shown by two other
companies namely M/s. Hitachi and M/s. Scomy, which were Japanese and Malaysian companies
respectively with some changes in the tender conditions, the Government decided to retender the
project, suggested by higher official meetings held in Delhi, as stated by PWD Minister, V.K. Ibrahim
Kunjhu. The retendering formalities shall be completed within the already decided time limit, as stated
by DMRC.
Identification of sites for the stations for the proposed monorail has drawn flak from various quarters as
the officials failed to hold discussions with the people's representatives and the city Corporation while
selecting the locations. Allegations have been raised that some of the proposed stations would be a
hindrance for the further development projects in the city. According to the project report, as many as
15 monorails stations - Medical College Hostel, Medical College, Chevayoor, Thondayad, Kottuli, New
Bus Stand, KSRTC, Mananchira, Palayam, Railway Station, Pushpa, Kallayi, Panniyankara,
Vattakkinar and Meenchanda - would be constructed in the first phase of the project, which would
cover 14.2 kilometers.
2013 November:
For the project, 8.72 hectares Government owned land had been taken on lease by KMCL. They needed
8.9 hectares of Government land and 3.04 hectares of private land in Thiruvananthapuram while it was
8.5 hectares and 1.58 hectares respectively in Kozhikode.
Global tender were again released. M/s. Bomardier Transportation came forward with their Expression
of Interest. Lack of interest of other companies surprised Mr. E. Sreedharan. Another retendering, with
change in clauses in tender to attract more companies was to be held in the same month.
2013 December:
A Canadian company made site visit and collected the details of the project. Tender documents were
revised for the monorail projects. The estimated cost of construction was Rs.5881 crores for both
Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode monorail projects.

2014 January:
Statement by the government and DMRC officials to start the construction works in July 2014. Pre bid
meeting to be held on 28th of January 2014.
2014 August:
The Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd (KMCL) and PWD stated that nearly 8.2819 hectares of
government land at various locations in the city would be required, besides, 0.1426 and 0.211 hectares
of land in possession of the Corporation and KWA. The acquisition process had been entrusted to the
District Level Purchase Committee (DLPC). The land possessed by various government departments
shall be taken on lease for a period of 30 years. Apart from this, the project also required 1.47 hectares
of private land and an application was available with the Revenue department.
2014 October:
The Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd (KMCL) board has approved the detailed project report (DPR)
prepared by the DMRC for introducing the Light Metro Project for Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode
at a cost of 6,728 crores. The DPR prepared by the DMRC, the general consultant for the project, was
approved by the KMCL at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. The KMCL has thus
been rechristened the Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC) and the civil works of the Light Metro
will commence within four months once the cabinet approves the DPR. It needs 8.9 hectares of
government land and 3.04 hectares of private land in Thiruvananthapuram while it is 8.5 hectares and
1.58 hectares respectively in Kozhikode. The state and the Union Governments will bear 20 per cent of
the cost each while 50 per cent of the funds will be raised locally and the rest will be met through
borrowings. Three companies, M/s. Hyundai Rotem, Spanish company M/s. Kaffe and M/s. Alstom,
have expressed their interest for the project.
With the Cabinet all set to consider the Light Metro Rail project based on a DPR by DMRC,
apprehensions were raised that the state may suffer further financial loss in Light Metro after the failed
Monorail dreams. There were allegations that DMRC had been charging exorbitant rates for
consultancy and execution of mega infrastructure projects in the state. The DMRC had been involved as
either general or executing consultants for some major transport and infrastructure projects in the state,
including the unsuccessful Monorail projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. It had been
pointed out that the monorail projects were scrapped and replaced by Light Metro without conducting
enough studies.
2014 November:
Allegations were put forward by the leader of opposition against the ruling government for cheating
people by providing contradictory statements regarding whether the city required monorail or light
2014 December:
DMRC principal adviser E Sreedharan said in Kozhikode: Given the traffic projections in Kozhikode,
the peak hour peak direction traffic (PHPDT) in 2041 will be around 11,500. A monorail can handle a
PHPDT capacity of 14,000 to 16,000 passengers. A Bus Rapid Transmission System (BRTS) can

manage only 6,000. For a Light Metro Rail, the PHPDT requirement should be at least 35,000. Hence,
considering the economic point of view, a monorail is the best option.
There were allegations that DPR for the rail project was prepared by violating guidelines of the Central
Vigilance Commission (CVC). Also consultancy for the projects was given without inviting global
tender. Going for global tender would have ensured expertise from various agencies. At the discussion,
the MLAs pointed out that with the project cost might go up further when the project is finally
implemented. That also need to be worked out, they said, adding that the Light Metro projects for the
two cities should not face the same fate of the monorail projects. If the project were not based on PPP
model, central clearance would be needed. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy assured that all issues
raised by the MLAs at the meeting would be seriously looked into.
The government stated that it would have a cautious approach towards the two light metro projects in
the state and approval shall be given to the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the DMRC only
after going into all the details. Mr. Ibrahim Kunjhu also said that global tenders shall be called for
implementing the project. He stated that there were reports that light metro was more feasible than
monorail. In the cities where it was running then, the light metros were having no issues. The Minister
told the Assembly that the first phase of the project would kick-start in 2015 and would be completed
by 2020.
2015 April:
With the State Government and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd failing to reach a consensus on light
metro project, another meeting shall be held after 10 days to sort out the issues. Contrary to DMRCs
suggestion for a light metro, the Finance Department stuck to its suggestions of going in for a medium
metro and also to pursue the project in the PPP model. The primary demand in the report submitted by
the Finance Department to the PWD in connection with the Light Metro project Thiruvananthapuram,
Kozhikode was to bring in private participation to which Mr. E.Sreedharan was dead against. Secondly,
the Finance Department had suggested to KMCL to take immediate steps to float tenders to select a
consultant for the project through an open and transparent international bidding process. They had
also asked to consider medium metro instead of light metro. The report had also asked to make use of
the services of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd and NATPAC for feasibility study. Long and short, the Finance
Department had overruled the detailed project report prepared by the DMRC.
Giving indications that the Medium Metro could replace the proposed Light Metro projects for
Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode cities, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had said that opinions on
various options, including ones similar to Kochi Metro project, had come up for consideration.
Referring to the proposal of public private partnership, Chandy said the government wanted the project
to be implemented with minimum cost. He, however, added that a final decision in that regard had not
been taken till then. E Sreedharan is of the opinion that Light Metro is suitable for
Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode cities. However, there are some different opinions also. The width
of the rail car for light metro project is 2.7 m while for the Kochi metro its 2.9 m.


2015 May:
The official sources said that chances to adopt a partial PPP model is on the cards, the statement
released by E Sreedharan, principal advisor to DMRC, revealed that he had no intention of supporting
the PPP model for the light metro projects. He also listed the flaws in pursuing a project like Light
metro in the PPP mode. Installation of systems including operation and maintenance were entrusted to a
private party on open tender basis. The cost of the civil structure and land would be borne by the
2015 June:
Even as the Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode light metro projects had come under criticism from
various corners, the Government had decided to go ahead with the projects. A high level meeting
chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also decided to issue administrative sanction of Rs 850
crore for road widening for the light metro projects in the two cities.
2015 July:
The Cabinet approved the Detailed Project report (DPR) for Thiruvananthapuram Kozhikode Light
Metro rail projects. The project would be implemented as a joint initiative of both the governments. As
per the current agreement, it was likely that the State and Central governments would independently
fund 20 per cent of the total expenses, while the remaining 60 per cent shall be availed as loan. The land
acquisition cost shall be borne by the State government.
2015 Aug:
DMRC chairman, Mr. E. Sreedharan stated that DMRC would not wait for the project anymore; as they
had opened offices at Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikkode for the project and the expense for it
around 19lakhs for each month He also added that bureaucrats were trying to mislead the Government
from the facts.
Content Analysis Of Newspapers
From the data/news collected from various newspapers circulated within the State, it has been observed
that the particular nature of the printed media in providing biased opinions in the interest of the
supporting political parties is still being continued without any major changes in the system. This is
evident from the example, the Deshabhimani newspaper, supporting the CPI(M), has reported all the
issues of and the protests occurred against the project, while the other papers have mentioned only the
major details of the project.
Some of the papers have even tried to mislead the public at times, to support their biased interests or as
part of their marketing strategy. They have failed in making people aware of the advantages of the
project towards city development and how the public would be benefited directly or indirectly. Rather
than giving the information on the future of the city, they have mostly concentrated on the inner politics
happening between the government, ruling and opposing, agencies, bureaucrats etc. However, in doing
so, they have been keeping the public informed about politics and current affairs.


Stakeholders can be defined as anyone who is part of planning, decision-making, investing, execution,
operation etc. In short any person or organization, which is benefited and has an interest on the outcome
can be termed as a stakeholder. The light metro being a very large-scale public project, the number of
stakeholders is very high. They range from various governments to the informal sector.
The classification of stakeholders on such a large scale is very difficult as there are overlaps between
them. The hierarchy of the stakeholders cannot be formed in the project in question. This is because
there are different stakeholders working parallel on each stage and the stakeholders cater to multiple
For the purpose of study, a classification was done taking in to consideration the profile of stakeholders.
As mentioned earlier, due to the constraints the hierarchy is an ideal case and might not be the true case.
From the pyramid 1, the present scenario can be understood. As represented the Central and State
Governments and the Governmental agencies are the main stakeholders and they are the major
It can be seen that various
governmental agencies are the
major stakeholders. It is this
category that widely decides
the path and future of the
project. It can also be seen



Pyramid 1


Pyramid 2

public and local bodies are minimal in this system.

However, pyramid 2 represents the ideal hierarchy, which should be adapted.
Central and state governments should provide guidance for the proper planning, execution and
functioning of the projects rather than being the main decision makers. The next level in the hierarchy
that is various governmental agencies, they play an important role in the success of the project. This
level as in pyramid 1 is a major stakeholder. The main objective of the first three levels should be to
review the progress from time to time. Investors and contractor play a very important role as they have
a say on budget and quality. Most of the projects, even though launched statewide, are carried out in
segments than as a single project. Local self-governing bodies play an important role since they are
aware of the limitations in these smaller segments.
Abraham Lincoln defined Democracy as a Government from the people, for the people and by the
people. This famous quote that became the base for most of the democratic values shows the
importance of people in the system. The current system, though aims at peoples participation failed
miserably because of the hierarchy. The pyramid 2 denotes that the people are the foundation for the
system and not the Government.
In this section, the various stakeholders, their roles and interests are summarized for easy understanding
of the system.

Central Government
The Central government is formed by the elected representatives of both the houses- the Lok Sabha and
the Rajya Sabha who are elected for a period of five years. They aim at development in a national level
and the improvement of quality of life throughout the country. Each years Central budget allots funds
for various development programs. They provide financial assistance in the form of various aids to the
State governments during the time of need. Another important objective of the Central Government is
the urban development as the rate of urbanisation is increasing rapidly.
Initially, the Urban development Ministry suggested and incepted the idea of a Mass Rapid Transit
System for Calicut. It was part of their urban development scheme. A project of such large scale cannot
be executed without technical and financial assistance from the Central Government. The Central
Government for the purpose of this study may be classified as before 2014 (UPA) and after 2014
(NDA). The shift in ideologies of the two governments necessitated this classification.
During the tenure of UPA government, apart from grant in aids, financial assistance was promised for
the metro project. They also provided 50% of the expenditure for the feasibility study and detailed
project report to be done by DMRC.
However, after the elections held in 2014, NDA government took up the office. The NDA government,
though they are in favour of the project has maintained that they could provide only technical assistance
and grant in aids. The state government have to source the funds.
State Government
The State Government consists of the members elected to the State Legislative Assembly. Similar to the
Central government, they are also elected for a period of five years. In the Kerala context, as discussed
in the earlier chapters, after independence, it can be seen that no single party held two consecutive terms
in the assembly. The differences in the ideologies of the two major parties are reflected in the projects
The State Government can be divided as ruling and opposition. Both the ruling and opposition plays a
major role in the development of the state. Various stands, comments and opinions made by these two
are summarized and analysed. United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF) are
the present ruling and opposition parties, respectively.
Ruling party (UDF)
The ruling party (2011 2016) declared the MRTS for Calicut and Trivandrum cities during their first
year in office. It was stated that the project would be carried forward with the help of Delhi Metro Rail
Corporation (DMRC). The various stakeholders at the State government (ruling party) level are as listed
1. The Chief Minister for State Mr Oomen Chandy
2. The Minister for Finance and Law Mr K. M. Mani
3. The Minister for Works Mr V. K. Ebrahim Kunjhu
4. The Minister for Panchayats and Social Welfare Dr M. K. Muneer


After several meetings, a contract was signed with DMRC and Mr. E. Sreedharan was declared as the
principal technical advisor and consultant. He was further entrusted by the State government with the
power of decision making for the successful completion of the project. The various events during the
time period under study have been already described in the timeline.
From the day of inception, the ruling side have put forward MRTS as one of their major projects and
stated that the projects would be successfully completed in the stipulated time limit. The projects were
show cased as a change of face of the entire State. The ruling party has blamed cost overrun and
retendering as a major cause for the delay. The main interest of the ruling party in the successful
completion of the project lays in the influence of the projects in the next election.
Opposition party (LDF)
The opposition party (2011-2016) was on the other side of the court before the elections. The initial
feasibility studies were conducted by NATPAC when they were in power. But after the elections they
were seen to maintain a silence on the project. The main stakeholders at the State government
(opposition party) level are as listed below
1. The Leader of Opposition Mr V. S. Achuthanathan
2. Members of Legislative Assembly 68 no.s
3. CPI(M) District committee
After the initial DPR was submitted and approved, it was found that they opposed the project. It was
stated that the project couldnt be executed since it will include mass eviction, environment degradation
and hinder future development. Also the opposition stated that execution of such a large budget project
could lead Kerala to outstanding debts. It was also blamed that the project was carried out in a secretive
manner, the Local bodies were not made aware of the project details and proceedings and there was no
public participation. It was observed that many members of the opposition had taken part in programs,
which were organised to protest against the project.
In the later stages there was a shift in their opinion and they started supporting the projects. They started
raising their voice against the delay from July 2015 only.
Some important statements made by the opposition are discussed in the following section.
Leader of the opposition V S Achuthanandan demanded a clarification from the state government on
the proposed light metro project in November 2014. His demand came after TOI's exposure of the
shortcomings in the detailed project report. He alleged that Chief minister Mr. Oommen Chandy and the
UDF government were trying to cheat public and also stated that the government's stand was
MLA Pradeep Kumar who is the opposition MLA and currently represents Kozhikode electoral
constituency one, stated that the light metro officials were working secretly and the project may hinder
the future development of the city.
MLA Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the deputy leader for opposition wanted the government to ensure public
participation in the project.


The spokesperson for the opposition party, District secretary T P Ramakrishnan stated that they
opposed the project since from the feasibility study it was found that around 50,000 households had to
be evicted. Also the budget of the project was so high that it would lead to heavy debt. He also stated
that the implementation of the project could cause environmental degradation.
Government Agencies
Government agencies form an integral part, of the system. From the inception to commission various
agencies have been a part of the project. Some of these agencies are under the Central government
while some are under the State. Governmental agencies which have been a part of the project are as
listed below.
1. Department of Finance
2. State Planning Board
3. Department of Public Works
4. Kerala Road Fund Board
6. Kerala Mono Rail Corporation
7. Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation
9. District Land Purchase Council
The various bureaucrats involved in the projects are mainly from these governmental agencies. These
agencies play an important role throughout the life of the project. A lot of delays are attributed to this
high level of bureaucratic involvement. Each agency follows its own procedure in a single project.
The coordination between these agencies is very important for the successful timely completion of the
project. But most of the times, the coordination was found to be absolutely minimal. This lack of
coordination was the main cause of delays.
Department of Finance
As the name suggests, this department takes care of the financial part of projects. The department is
accountable for the fund allocation as per the budget. The Finance Secretary heads the department. The
economic feasibility of projects are analysed by them to ensure that the projects carried out do not affect
the financial stability.
In the light metro project, the Finance department had raised doubts about the economic feasibility. The
project budget, which was estimated as Rs 1991, crores had gone up to around Rs5000 crores. This
increase could affect the State budget in the coming years.
State Planning Board
The State planning board prepares the perspective plan, development plan and the annual plan for the
State. It is a statutory body, which used to work in constant touch with the National Planning
Commission (NPC). Since the NPC does not exist anymore, they formulate plans in line with the NITI
Ayog guidelines. State Planning board is a part of all major projects carried out through the State

State Planning Board is one of the key stakeholders in the project. The State Planning board had found
the project to be in line with the development plan of the State. The point of conflict arose when the
board introduced the idea of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the project. This move had raised a lot
of questions on the credibility of the boards decision in the project.
Department of Public works
The Public works department (PWD) takes care of the execution of most of the infrastructure
development in the state. But due to its inexperience in a very large project of the scale similar to a
metro, they are part of the technical assistance team to DMRC. The execution of the project had to be
given through global tenders. The maintenance works during the operational life of the project would be
done by PWD.
The PWD secretary was a member of the panel selected to approve the revised detailed project report
for the project.
Kerala Road Fund Board
It is the board that takes care of the transportation planning and maintenance of facilities in the state.
Initially KRFB was given the charge of conducting reconnaissance and feasibility studies through third
party agencies. Later on Kerala Mono Rail Corporation was formed.
NATPAC is a central government agency, which takes care of the transportation needs of the country
mainly due to their technical expertise. They carry out research on various new possibilities in the field
of transportation. The first feasibility study for a rapid transit system was done by NATPAC in 2008 in
order to find a solution to the commutation issues faced by the state. They suggested a mass rapid
transit system over a bus rapid system considering the width of the roads and possibility of road
Kerala Mono Rail Corporation
The Kerala Mono Rail Corporation was formed to ensure successful completion and operation of the
project. It is a government initiated company. It was formed after the feasibility study by M/s Wilber
Smith suggested a monorail for the two cities Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. The Manager
Director nominated by the Government of Kerala heads it.
However, it was rechristened to Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation when the project was converted to
light metro instead of Mono rail.
It is the main stakeholder, as it has to run the project successfully during the life of the project.
Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation
It is another government agency formed initially when Monorail was proposed. Initially they were very
active but in the later stages they have not been seen in the picture.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is a company formed by the Central government and the Delhi State
government. The DMRC was appointed as the technical consultants for the project considering their
record of running the Delhi metro, which is one of the worlds biggest metros successful. DMRC has

done the DPR for monorail earlier which was sanctioned. Currently DMRC has prepared the DPR of
light metro, which is awaiting approval.
Mr. E. Sreedharan of DMRC is the Chief technical officer and due to his expertise in the field he is
given the liberty to decide on various aspects of the project.
District Land Purchase Council
The district land purchase council takes care of the land acquisition within a district. Out of the 10.654
hectares of land to be acquired 1.552 hectares are private land and the rest are owned by various
government bodies. The land owned by government bodies would be handed over in the given time
limit. The council has to acquire the 1.552 hectares of private land. This is a stage where there would be
a probable chance of delay once the DPR is approved.
5. Discussion
It is imperative to first look at the system of decision-making process involved in formulizing and
implementing Kozhikode Light Metro. After the budget allocation was done for Kozhikode and
Thiruvananthapuram Light Metro, the Kerala Government constituted a three member panel consisting
of the Finance Secretary, PWD Secretary and MD of Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation to review the
Detailed Project Report submitted by DMRC after DMRC expressed their disappointment regarding the
delay from the part of the government in approving the DPR.
Causes of Delay
The delay in the project has occurred at various levels of stake holders through the course of the period
selected for study. The delays occurred mainly due to conflict of interest between various parties
involved. There was delay due to lack of coordination at the State government level. Budget issues and
tendering/ retendering also caused the project to be pushed ahead. Hindrance from opposition and the
failure to reach a consensus between DMRC on one side and Finance department and Planning Board
on the other amounted to much delay in the project.
The project work was progressing slowly due to strong opposition by LDF party when the UDF
Government came into power. The party did not raise their voice against the delay initially, but later it
can be observed that foreseeing the impending elections in 2016, they renewed their enthusiasm to take
up the issue of Light Metro in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram and began to actively scrutinize the
actions of UDF very closely. It was alleged by them that there was corruption at various levels in
departments handling the project. They also demanded more of public participation in the discussions
regarding Light Metro.
Rescheduling of concerned agencies due to change in the project form Monorail to Light metro, delay
in Land Acquisition and change in Central Govt. policy from funding assistance to grants in aid are few
other reasons the project has not worked out in time.
Advantages and disadvantages of the current system
Advantages of having such a systematic process for decision-making are manifold. Firstly, such a
process is well organized in terms of decision-making and implementation. Secondly, such a system

allows making improvisations to the proposed project. The newspapers report all proceedings regarding
the project.

The system strived to achieve absolute transparency and there is an indirect public

participation through the involvement of elected MLAs in the assembly.

Whereas, there is considerable time lag between the decisions made and implementation of the project,
often when sanction for a project is granted in the ruling term of a particular political party and
implementation occurs in the next term having another ruling party, causing delay in the
commencement of works. The opposition parties also raise their doubts and concerns, which are
irrelevant at times, hence causing delay. The committee does not comprise professionals or a team of
experts to give their advice on the concerned matters. Widespread corruption biased reporting by certain
sections of media, vested interests of bureaucrats, lack of direct public participation, are other factors
that affect a project.
6. Conclusion
In the earlier chapters, we have seen that most of the successful city development projects around the
world had a system functioning outside the government department. A technical team of highly
qualified professionals under a commission developed those projects.
However, in the context of Kerala, city development projects would function better under a company.
But we have already seen that, though the project has a company, it is not functioning properly due to
various reasons. Hence, proposal for restructuring the company could be a solution. The company shall
comprise of a well-qualified technical team as its Board of Directors supported by Board of advisors
who would give their expertise on the issues concerning a project. The company shall be dedicated to
making a plan for formulation, implementation, monitoring and review of the project from the
beginning to the end. It shall be appointed by the State and will have employees, appointed by the
Board of Directors, who would whole-heartedly work to run the company and thereby, the project, to its
completion as any delay in doing so would cost them heavily.
Public participation, direct and indirect, should be encouraged at instances where their involvement
would enhance the city development, as they will be more aware of the projects and this would help in
speeding up the implementation process by cooperating with the government whenever required. The
public should be made aware of the benefits of such projects. The printed media and the social media
should help in creating such awareness to the people. Web based data management systems by using
GIS can prove to be helpful in terms of keeping demographic records, physical aspects of the project
and modeling the proposal. The Social media can play an important role in the decision making process.
It will provide a platform to people to voice their opinions on matters, which affect them.
At the Central level, financial assistance from various sources should be made available so that the
project works proceed smoothly without any financial glitches. The PPP model should be encouraged
only wherever suitable. We have already seen that in the case of Metro projects, PPP model would not
be effective. The State, Centre or both should carry out public projects with lower and slower rate of


return. Conflicts of interest by various political parties at the State level should be resolved for the
benefit of public and so as to not hamper the development of the cities.
7. References
The Newspaper dailies- Archives

The Hindu

The New Indian Express

The Times of India

Malayala Manorama



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