East-West Kolkata Metro, what caused the delay?

Kolkata Metro need to go by the book and conform to multiple norms by being a central PSU

kolkata Metro
kolkata Metro

Kolkata (Metro Rail News): The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), One of the fastest growing Metro network in the world believe that Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), which was formed to build the East-West corridor could have been as effective as DMRC and completed the project in five years had it not lost its autonomy.

The Kolkata East-West Metro corridor construction is now in the 11th year. The phase-I of the project is ready for operations, while the other section will take at least two years more to start the services.

DMRC MD Mangu Singh said on April 17, 2019, at a symposium on infrastructure development and management organised by the RCG School of Infrastructure Design & Management, IIT-Kharagpur “Both DMRC and KMRC were modelled on the same principle, with the urban development ministry and the respective state having 50% stake each. DMRC stayed that way and avoided becoming either a state or central public sector undertaking (PSU). A board-run company found its own dynamism with its independent decision-making mechanism. But with Bengal off-loading its 50% stake to the Railways, KMRC became a central PSU. And that slowed down the project as systemic flaws in PSUs trickled in,”.

Now Railways holds 74% stake and rest is with the Urban development ministry in KMRC. It needs to go by the book and conform to multiple norms by being a central PSU. KMRC needed the ministry’s nod to disburse funds beyond a certain value or make an appointment. Even for land acquisition, they were dependent on the ministry, he added.

On the other hand, DMRC has the mandate to enter into direct negotiation with the land-owner for purchasing the land required for the project. Since the Delhi government is 50% stakeholder in DMRC, it played a pro-active role in clearing roadblocks to land acquisition.

Government of West Bengal has no financial stake in the project so that It had no compulsion to facilitate land procurement and it stuck to its stand against acquisition and proposed realignment that delayed the project, said an official.

“The project languished for years until Calcutta HC salvaged it,” a KMRC official admitted. Another key factor behind the Delhi Metro sticking to timelines was making contractors equal partners in the project and scheduling funds release in such a way that it did not ever dry up.

“In normal circumstances, there are hundreds of ways to stop funds flowing to contractors. But we have not allowed that in DMRC. Timely payment to contractors has accelerated work. While the first 190 km of Delhi Mero took 14 years, the second 190 km took only seven,” said Singh.

“Leadership also played a critical role, Having technocrat at the helm of the affair first E Sreedharan, and then, Mangu Singh helped in proper and timely decision-making that ensured the project progressed at a fair clip,” Said DMRC official.

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