NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): On Monday evening, the Haryana government and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) signed an agreement, according to which the latter will take over operations of Gurugram’s Rapid Metro as an interim measure for two months.
Senior officials from both, the Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation (HMRTC) and the DMRC, confirmed this development on Tuesday.
D Suresh, managing director, HMRTC, and chief administrator, Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), said, “This will allow the DMRC, which is an experienced Metro operator, to run the Rapid Metro for two months while we make arrangements to run it independently. The DMRC will not run the Rapid Metro in the long-term.” He added that the DMRC was prepared to take over operations by September 22.
However, officials also said that this handover will be contingent on orders that are yet to be issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which on Tuesday adjourned its hearing of the Rapid Metro dispute to September 18, and instructed IL&FS to continue operating the Metro line for one more day.
The HSVP and the HMRTC had both filed separate petitions in the high court on September 6, challenging a termination notice issued by the Rapid Metro on June 7.
Anuj Dayal, executive director of corporate communications, DMRC, said, “An agreement has been signed. However, the process of taking over will commence only when it is officially communicated by the HMRTC to the DMRC. As of now, the HMRTC and the Rapid Rail authorities are communicating with each other and further course of action will also depend on court observations.”
Representatives from both, the Haryana government and the Rapid Metro, confirmed that negotiations between the two parties have so far not been able to arrive at a resolution. Chetan Mittal, the advocate for the Haryana government in the matter, said, “Negotiations with the operator have failed. Our position, as conveyed to the court, is that the assets and infrastructure need to be handed over to us at the earliest so that the service can be handed over to the DMRC. However, the operator is refusing to transfer the assets without first settling the project’s outstanding debts.”
Both parties have also been instructed by the high court to recommend the names of two judges, who will oversee the transfer of operations and maintenance of the Rapid Metro from IL&FS to the HMRTC, and then to the DMRC. They are expected to put forward their recommendations in court on September 18.
IL&FS also told the court on Tuesday that it would be willing to continue operating the Rapid Metro, provided the Haryana government settled the project’s outstanding debt. Mittal, however, said that the Haryana government would not agree to any payment terms without first conducting a forensic audit of Rapid Metro Gurugram Limited (and Rapid Metro Gurugram South Limited).
“Even the enforcement directorate is investigating allegations that the service has been used to siphon off about ₹300 crores, by issuing work orders to shell companies. Before any payout can be made, we have to be sure that the Haryana government is not picking up any of the company’s liabilities, or providing them undue benefits,” he said.
A senior IL&FS official, not wishing to be quoted, said that the company would not make any official comment until after the high court hearing on September 18.