Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gopinath’s exit won’t affect HSRL, project will go on’

Gopinath’s exit won’t affect HSRL, project will go on’
Bangalore, Nov 9, DH News Service:

Will the axing of aviation entrepreneur Capt G R Gopinath as head of Vision Group on Infrastructure derail the Rs 5,767 project on High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA)?


The answer to this is no, according to sources in the Infrastructure Development Department (IDD). Capt Gopinath has been replaced by the Principal Secretary to the IDD V Madhu, who had held the post of vice-chairman of the group, till now.

It may be recalled that some members of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) had expressed reservations about the project, due to its cost, despite it being implemented on a PPP-BOT basis. Instead, some members from ABIDe, who were keen to have the Bangalore Metro alignment to be extended to the BIA, expressed reservations over the project, which ultimately led to the removal of Capt Gopinath.

‘No regrets’

Standing by his decision to support a HSRL connectivity to BIA in the interest of the City, Capt Gopinath told Deccan Herald that he had no regrets. “It is really unfortunate, if the project is stalled at this stage. The vision group on infrastructure has not overruled the decision of ABIDe on the HSRL project at any given time. As chairman of the group, I had only expressed my keenness to have key infrastructure projects expedited and called for transparency in award of contracts, including the HSRL connectivity. I had, as a matter of fact, never met Rajeev Chandrashekhar on this issue. There was no difference of opinion at a personal level,” he said.

Capt Gopinath added that private participation in infrastructure is needed as people are ready to invest in infrastructure and power sectors.

However, sources said that the ouster of the aviation entrepreneur, could have actually stemmed from the ongoing political crisis in the State BJP. “There seems to be a tussle between the Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar camps in ABIDe too. This has take an ugly turn in the form of this decision,” sources added.

Taking a different view, Prof M N Sreehari said the government could even now consider an alternative to the HSRL such as extending the Namma Metro corridor or extend the South Western Railway link via Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka or implement a mono rail at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

Meanwhile, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) that was asked by the government to do a feasibility study on extension of the present alignment to the BIA has already prepared a draft report done by RITES. The cost as per this study would work out at approximately Rs 600 crore/km.

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