Light Metro dreams stuck in red tape

The DPR was submitted by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) as per the new metro policy last December. Though the DMRC has withdrawn from the project, the state government proceeded with it finding new consultants.

Kochi Metro
Kochi Metro Rail

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Light Metro Rail, a major infrastructure project for the development of the capital, is stuck in the red tape with the Finance Department yet to give a final approval for the revised Detailed Project Report (DPR).

The DPR was submitted by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) as per the new metro policy last December. Though the DMRC has withdrawn from the project, the state government proceeded with it finding new consultants. But, the tender process to identify a new consultant has not yet begun leaving the project in a complete deadlock. The Finance Department is sitting over the file for the past nine months sources said.

As per the new policy, it’s the respective state governments that should submit the request for approval. Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Ltd (KRTL), the Special Purpose Vehicle formed by the state government for the implementation of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode Light Metro projects, has been entrusted with the task of collecting necessary details. On behalf of KRTL, DMRC has revised the DPR.

Since the DMRC withdrew from the project, all the proceedings are moving at a slow pace. DMRC has quit from the project following the state government’s reluctance to ink the turnkey consultancy contract for preparatory works of the transit system even 14 months after the DMRC had undertaken the consultancy. The government has shown the least interest in finding a new consultant. The highway from Kazhakoottam to Ulloor, proposed along with the Light Metro, is also dragging. Now, the stretch has turned out a bottleneck during the peak hours, sources said.

Cost escalation:

Rs 6,728 crore was the initial amount envisaged for the project. Following the delay, the project has suffered cost escalation, making the cost as high as Rs 7,500 crore. The Kerala Infrastructure investment fund board (KIIFB) is the funding agency of the project. According to the proposal, the Light Metro rail in Thiruvananthapuram was to be live by 2020.  According to a senior official of KRTL, the revised DPR is under the consideration of the Finance Department.  “It is learned that the department has completed the proceedings and the approval will come soon. DMRC has submitted the revised DPR in December last year”, the official said.  When contacted, the Finance Secretary Manoj Joshi was unavailable for a comment. As per the revised DPR, the total project cost for
Thiruvananthapuram alone is Rs 4,219 crore.  Of this 20 percent, each will be borne by the state and Central Governments.

Three flyovers:

The preliminary proceedings including the three major flyover projects at the capital are underway. There were three proposed flyovers in the city to support the Light Metro Rail and the designs prescribed by the DMRC team. The sites are at Sreekaryam, Ulloor, and Pattom.  The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) at Sreekaryam flyover is over.  The district administration has assigned the Revenue Department to proceed with the land acquisition. At Ulloor, the SIA is underway and the study will be conducted at the Pattom flyover in the next phase. As per the information from sources, the project will be delayed as the land acquisition project will need at least six to seven months. The tender for finding out the new consultant will also begin later.   There are four flyovers on the 21.8-km Pallipuram-Karamana corridor. Total project cost Rs 4,219 crore. The state government had also been in parleys with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) officials for step loans at 4 percent interest with repayment tenure spread over 40 years.

Land acquisition:

Rs 272.68 crore would be needed for the land acquisition to procure 2.27 hectares of land and shift 163 buildings. Earlier, the Mayor V K Prasanth has openly come out against the project. He had said the city does not really require mega projects like Light Metro which involves huge cost and large-scale land acquisition. According to Prasanth, the present road and traffic conditions should be improved first before going for projects involving several thousands of crores.



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