NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): The Supreme Court (SC) directed to start the construction work for Delhi Metro’s Phase IV on Friday. It was delayed by over three years due to a tussle between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over clearances and funding after the Delhi government said that it will approve the project.
The AAP government had not approved the project, objecting to the central government’s proposal that it would have to bear the land cost, operational losses, and repayment of the loan in case of default. It said that the land cost of Rs 2,447 crore for the three approved corridors should be equally shared by both the governments. However, it agreed with the Centre’s proposal to share the central tax burden equally.
The Delhi Metro’s Phase IV consists of six corridors with a total length of 103.94km, connecting Aerocity to Tughlakabad, Inderlok to Indraprastha, Lajpat Nagar to Saket G block, Mukundpur to Maujpur, Janakpuri West to R K Ashram and Rithala to Bawana and Narela. It is likely to add around 18.6 lakh riders per day.
The court, in the last hearing, agreed with the amicus curiae and the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) that the project is critical for the city and issued notice to the Delhi government. In a response to the notice, senior advocate Dhruv Mehta, who appeared for the AAP government, told the bench that the project will be approved so that construction work could commence. The dispute with the Centre could be adjudicated later by the court, according to a newspaper report.
It may be noted that in 2014, the project was submitted by DMRC and work was to begin in 2016 but it could not commence due to the differences.
In March, the Centre had approved three of the six corridors. As the stalemate continued, EPCA moved the Supreme Court to seek its intervention. Senior advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, told a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta that the project is essential to deal with the problem of pollution and traffic congestion and any further delay will cost the city enormously.
Delhi Government in its affidavit said that both the Centre and Delhi government are 50:50 stakeholders in the equity in DMRC. The decision (to make Delhi liable to pay the entire land cost) therefore needs to be examined by this court and appropriate directions be passed as putting the entire land cost on After recording the Delhi government’s statement, the bench directed that construction work for three corridors of Phase IV be started forthwith.
However, the tussle between the two governments crops from the National Metro Rail Policy (NMRP) of August 2017 which specifies the role of Centre in public transport infrastructure projects. According to the policy, the Centre would provide financing assistance, up to 20 percent of the cost of state Metro projects. It states that the responsibility of the project’s sustainability vests with the state government. The Delhi government has said that the ownership of Delhi Metro is divided equally between the Union and the state governments, and the Centre must share the land and taxes proportionately. GNCTD would be too onerous to bear.