Friday, December 24, 2004

Metro Rail needs a big push

Metro Rail needs a big push
The Times of India

BANGALORE: Even as chief minister N. Dharam Singh has announced that the prestigious Metro Rail project will get the final nod in the next 15 days, several loose ends need to be tied so the project gets going.

The Rs 5,000-crore project has already lost two years, and its cost has escalated to Rs 5,600 crore. It needs a push at the highest level but so far, there has not been any meeting on the project between Dharam Singh and Union urban development minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Without this, the required political will may not come through, analysts told The Times of India.

Also, four senior ministers from Karnataka — Rehman Khan (now deputy chairman, Rajya Sabha), Oscar Fernandes, M V Rajasekharan and V Muniyappa, who were to meet Azad almost six months ago on the Bangalore Metro Rail project, are yet to do so.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has been appointed consultants for the project, and the state and central governments are to share the cost on 50:50 basis. The equity participation is still to be okayed, sources said.

Also, though the state government appointed B.S. Sudhir Chandra as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for the project in March 2004, the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) constituting central and state government officials is yet to be formed.

One official said that now that the Congress is in power both in the state and Centre, getting approval is not a problem.

"But it is important that officials chase the file in New Delhi."

The DMRC team, along with Rail India Techno-Economic Services (RITES), has already done considerable work and the initial design for the link between Byappanahalli and Cubbon Park has been completed, BMRTL sources said. Only tenders have to be called now, a DMRC official added.

OSD for Metro Rail project B S Sudhir Chandra, however, said the issue of obtaining clearances was in an advanced stage, and work should begin by April-May 2005.

The financial model has been submitted and sent to the Project Investment Board for approval. After that, the project will need clearance from the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The state and central governments will have to chip in with Rs 900 crore each and the remaining funds will be sourced from bonds and loans. Several banks have also come forward to participate in the project.

The government also needs to formalise the appointment of DMRC as the prime consultants. "So far, they have agreed only orally. They will not be able to do any work or design," sources said.


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