Ex-DMRC chief Sreedharan says L&T being a partner is a ‘great advantage’

Former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief E. Sreedharan continues to be sceptical of the Public, Private Partnership (PPP) mode for metro rail projects, but observed that the Hyderabad model’s “great advantage” was having Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as the partner.

“I strongly believe that PPP will not work for metro rail as any public transport system requires heavy investments and metros all over the world have government help. There are more than 200 metros and not one is self-sufficient,” he said.

Tariffs are regulated for metro rail projects and the projects will not succeed unless the deals are “sweetened” by giving tax concessions and provide lands for commercial exploitation.

“Nowhere in the world have they succeeded. Hyderabad and Mumbai are the two cities that have opted for PPP mode and we are yet to see their fate and what will happen,” he remarked.

Dr. Sreedharan was addressing a gathering at the 31st members conference of the Centre for Organisation Development (COD), where he delivered a lecture on ‘Delhi Metro Rail: A success story’ here on Friday. Later, he was also presented with the ‘V. Krishnamurthy Award for Excellence’ by Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.

The ‘metro man’ famous for completing DMRC phase one and two before schedule even while claiming of not being aware of the metro rail developments in the last three-four years here, felt that the project’s construction was not happening at the desired pace either in Bangalore, Mumbai or Hyderabad.

“Time is money. The Hyderabad project costs Rs.16, 000 crore and each day lost means a Rs.2 crore loss or Rs.2 crore gain if works are completed before time,” he explained. Dr. Sreedharan, now the consultant for the Kochi metro rail project, while detailing the DMRC’s successes, hoped that every city taking up the metro repeats the same.

“We have demonstrated to the world that a complex transport system like a metro can be built with the latest technology, before time and at a budgeted cost,” he said. DMRC had prepared detailed project reports for eight cities going in for metro projects including Chennai, Jaipur along with Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and others to spread the ‘metro revolution’.

DMRC, with the lowest ticket tariff in the world other than Kolkata, is making Rs.2 crore operating profits a day and the income was used not only to pay part of the cost for the new phase but also service the Japanese loan.

Phase one – 65.3 km/Rs.10,500 crore was done in two years and nine months ahead of schedule and phase two – 124 km/Rs.24,000 crore six months ahead of schedule.

“Being a government organisation, the organisation was subjected to scrutiny by CAG, parliamentary committees and others but there was not a single scandal,” he exulted. Once phase three - 145 km/Rs.40,000 crore and phase four – 110 km is completed, DMRC will be the fourth largest metro in the world, he added.

TCS vice-chairman S. Ramadorai and Wockhardt chairman Habil K. Khorakiwala too spoke.

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