Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Metro Rail huffs and puffs as procedures take toll

Metro Rail huffs and puffs as procedures take toll
The Times of India

Bangalore: The Bangalore Metro Rail project is slowly puffing to its last destination, but procedures are taking its toll before it goes to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Aff a i r s (CCEA).

The note which was circulated to various departments of the Government of India is expected to come back before Thursday when the CCEA meets in Delhi. Meanwhile, the Group of Ministers’ (GoM) note which has agreed to the Karnataka government’s proposal to have a standard gauge for the Bangalore Metro is going to the full Cabinet on Thursday for approval.

BMRC sources told TOI that getting the crucial Cabinet clearance on the GoM note is very important. “Once we get the nod, it will be a big step forward.’’

While the BMRC officials are hoping to get the CCEA clearance by Thursday, BMRC managing director V Madhu left for Delhi on Tuesday to keep a tab on the issue with the Union Urban Development Ministry and departments, who are yet to give their comments. The BMRC officials are meeting with Union Cabinet officials on Wednesday to press the matter.
Meanwhile, Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) loan in Tokyo was to be signed on Tuesday. JBIC was expected to offer Rs 1,800 crore loan, which was being offered at 1.3 per cent and after hedging the interest rate (for exchanged rate fluctuation) was to be around 3.6 per cent. Against that, banks in India are offering loans at 8 to 8.5 per cent.

It is clear that if the JBIC loan has to be obtained now, it would require intervention from the highest quarters of the Government of India.

Before leaving for Delhi, Madhu and other BMRC officials inspected the proposed alignment along the CMH Road.
Traders and residents of CMH Road have been demanding that the alignment be changed to go along Old Madras Road. The Justice Shivshankar Bhat Committee which resigned last week was supposed to have submitted its report on whether the alignment should be along CMH Road or Old Madras Road. The committee had done a lot of work, but its resignation has left the BMRC officials high and dry.

Govt asks panel for report
The Karnataka government has asked the Justice Shivshankar Bhat committee to submit its report. The committee is looking into the issue of alignment along CMH Road, which the traders and residents are demanding be changed to Old Madras Road. The committee has already met residents and traders of both segments and elicited their views.

The committee which had submitted its resignation last week after the government did not give it the necessary clarifications it had sought, has been urged to continue its work, sources told TOI. The CM had stated that the Metro Rail will be built only on government land and not private after shop owners at Kuvempu Road in Rajaji Nagar urged him to stop the acquisition of 150 properties for the project. The committee felt that if private properties cannot be acquired, then it had no role as both the CMH Road and Old Madras Road are on private land.


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