The Government of India has finalised a plan to augment and launch mass rapid transportation systems across 50 cities to minimise commuter woes and ease pollution concerns.
Prime minister Narendra Modi has already cleared a proposal put up by the ministry of urban development, estimated to cost Rs 500,000 crore over the next four to six years. The Union government plans to share the cost of implementing the project with the respective state governments through special purpose vehicles.
And official in the prime minister’s office, who is not permitted to identify himself, said that prospective partners from South Korea, China, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and Canada have evinced interest in participating in the project.
“Every metro rail system would be very important, given our plan to build 100 smart cities and ensure environmentally sustainable transportation facilities,” the official said.
Modi is learnt to have specially discussed the metro rail projects with CEOs of top Chinese companies in Shanghai and Korean firms in Seoul during his recent visit to both the countries.
Most of the metro rail projects would be implemented through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) in which both state governments and the centre would have equity stakes. While most JVs are being planned as 50:50 ventures, certain innovations are also expected in some of the new projects where municipal corporations have expressed their desire to join the proposed SPVs as equity partners.
Already, some 13 metro projects have either been completed or are in various stages of completion. These include networks in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Mumbai (both metro, monorail), Kolkata and Kochi.
Tier-II cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Gurgaon, Patna, Ahmedabad, Surat, Indore, Nagpur and Coimbatore have also been identified for setting up dedicated metro networks, while proposals are being evaluated for Chandigarh, Bhopal, Ludhiana and Kozikode.
A joint venture between Russia’s Mosmetrostroy and Gammon India has been implementing the Chennai corridor that is expected to be operational in the next few months and is likely to be inaugurated by chief minister J Jayalalithaa who returned to office on Saturday.
The Hyderabad metro, where Larsen & Turbo is the main concessionaire, is reportedly on schedule and is likely to roll out by October.
The latest to join the proposed list is Vijayawada with a link to Amaravathi, the new state capital of Andhra Pradesh, with an investment of Rs 6,823 crore. Delhi Metro’s founding honcho E Sreedharan is overseeing the project.
“Cities wanting to set up metro rail projects may have to compete and come up with innovative and compelling proposals,” the PMO official quoted earlier said.
Several innovations are being planned for implementing mass rapid corridors in different cities. For example, project authorities in Nagpur have been evaluating the possibility of running the network on solar power. Nagpur metro, where both French and German agencies have been in the reckoning, is looking at cost-effective project financing, both through equity and debt.
According to preliminary projections, at least 40 per cent of the required power for operating the system would be sourced from dedicated solar power plants. Land acquisition for the project has commenced earlier this month.