Jammu: The Union Urban Development and Railways Ministry haven’t found merit, as of now, for starting metro rail network in Jammu and Srinagar, the twin rotational capital cities of Jammu and Kashmir but agreed to take up the proposal again when the cities already in line for the project are cleared.
The Union Urban Development Ministry headed by M Venkaiah Naidu had recently relaxed norms for approval of metro rail networks from 20 lakh population in the City to 10 lakh and decided to grant Central assistance to the States for new mode of urban transport in the cities to overcome traffic congestions.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Centre has now asked Jammu and Kashmir to put up its fresh proposal after sometime as already there were many cities in the pipeline, which have more urgent needs for metro rail networks in view of more population, space etc.
Accordingly, sources said, the Government would now focus on sanction of Jammu and Srinagar as smart cities first before putting up fresh proposal for metro rail network in the two capital cities of the State to cater to their needs for urban transport.
Presently, five metros and a Tier-II city have metro rail networks in the country. They are Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore (all metro cities) and Jaipur, a Tier-II City. Kolkata was the first city to have metro rail while Chennai is the latest.
The Centre has told the State that a number of cities were ahead of Jammu and Srinagar on merits and criteria adopted for giving Central funding to metro rail projects, which included Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Indore, Nagpur Kochi, Coimbatore, Kozhikode, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Ludhiana etc.
“Once these cities are cleared, the case of Jammu and Srinagar cities for the metro rail projects would be taken up,” sources said, adding that present focus of the State Government as well as Union Urban Development Ministry was focused on development of smart cities.
Jammu and Kashmir has projected two smart cities-Jammu and Srinagar. However, in total 100 smart cities, there was only one slot for Jammu and Kashmir but in view of regional emotions, the State has projected case of both Jammu and Srinagar as the smart cities.
The Government is confident that the Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Development Department would clear both Jammu and Srinagar as smart cities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Development Package for Jammu and Kashmir worth Rs 80,000 crores, has earmarked Rs 500 crores for development of smart cities in the State.
“Every metro rail system would be very important, given our plan to build 100 smart cities and ensure environmentally sustainable transportation facilities,” sources said but added that the Central funding would be available to the cities for metro rail network only after they fulfill the criteria and agreed to fix a sum from their own resources for funding the project.
Most of the metro rail projects, according to sources, would be implemented through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in which both State Government 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.
According to sources, the Government of India has also listed certain conditions which the State Government would require to fulfill on priority before again asking for inclusion of Jammu and Srinagar in the metro rail projects.