‘State can decide on private partnership'

The Kochi Metro Rail project is expected to get the formal nod from the Centre in another few weeks, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said.

He was addressing mediapersons here on Tuesday, after visiting the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's work site at Manappatiparambu Ground.

He saw first hand the works that the agency has undertaken to widen the North overbridge and to build a new overbridge linking Salim Rajan Road with MG Road and expressed satisfaction over the progress of the works. The DMRC had stated a fortnight ago that it has readied itself to begin the civil works for the Kochi Metro, within two months of the Centre giving its nod. Reacting to a question on the Planning Commission recommending execution of infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership scheme, Mr. Ahluwalia said that the Commission encourages private participation as a general rule. “In implementing schemes, we support experimenting with private stakeholders. But this is not necessary for all projects since State Governments have the last word on choosing the mode of implementing them,” he said.

The State Government and the Union Urban Affairs Ministry had opposed private participation and suggested implementing the Kochi Metro as a Centre-State joint venture scheme on the lines of the Chennai Metro, to prevent cost escalation and to ensure its timely completion.

To a question on the Hyderabad and Mumbai metros encountering massive cost overruns and inordinate delays in construction because of problems with private firms which took up their construction, Mr. Ahluwalia said that such infrastructure projects often have such crises in their early stages. He termed the Cochin International Airport as an example of how private participation worked effectively.

The Union Minister of State for Food K. V. Thomas; Hibi Eden, MLA, too were present at the media meet.

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