Union Budget 2018 | Metro rail project allocations hit three-year low

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Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Urban Minister (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The government has outlined big plans for metro rail projects in India, but the latest Union Budget does not reflect this.

Allocations made in Union Budget 2018 for the metro rail projects are at a three-year low of Rs 15,000 crore. As per the statistics, in 2016-17 Rs 15,327 crore (actual) was spent on metro projects and Mass Rapid Transit System, the following year in 2017-18 Rs 18,000 crore was allocated and revised estimates remain unchanged.

Metro Rail Policy, 2017 makes private sector participation mandatory, which is a big change. This change will be a catalyst for creating the right models to attract investment from the private players. This also helps the government in reducing their outlay,” said Rajaji Meshram, Director, Infrastructure, KPMG India.

For example, recently Delhi Metro received bids for rolling stock of 25 trains on a lease basis from manufacturers. Similarly, Kochi Metro wants a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model for ticketing with the participation of banks and financial institutions to invest in an automated fare collection system.

Secondly, a change in the Metro Rail Policy 2017 approved in August states that cities with a population of 20 lakh or more should go for a metro rail system or else look for other alternatives.

The need for a new policy came up after PPP in metro rail projects faced legal tangles such as the ones with Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Ltd and Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd.

“There’s adequate allocations done for different works planned for the next fiscal. Moreover, there are plenty of metro lines scheduled for commissioning in 2018-19, which would obviously need lesser funds towards the fag end of construction, thereby leading to lesser outlay in the Budget,” said an industry insider.

During 2018-19, 190 km of metro rail networks are proposed to be commissioned in Delhi (114 km), Chennai (15.50 km), Bengaluru (12.80 km), Ahmedabad (6.30 km), Nagpur (11.70 km) and Noida-Greater Noida (29.70 km).

The Budget has made allocations for metro rail in Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Mumbai, Kochi and Lucknow; a total of 342 km, some of which are scheduled for completion.

As per the allocations, in the next fiscal, additional corridors under Phase-III of Delhi Metro are slated for completion. For Chennai Metro elevated viaduct, station and depot are slated for completion, while the second phase of civil works will commence for all four extensions of Bengaluru Metro.

In Ahmedabad, the test track will be commissioned in 2018-19 from the budgetary allocation. With the monetary assistance from the Budget, Nagpur Metro will complete construction of 2,500 piers, 400 girders, three station buildings, a depot, viaduct construction, testing and commissioning of rolling stock.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation will continue with its civil construction work of its underground line and will commence track work, power supply-overhead equipment systems, rolling stock, signalling-telecommunications and other system works. Similarly, Lucknow Metro will complete its underground line and Pune Metro will go ahead with the civil works.

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