O. Rajagopal says attempts being made to keep E. Sreedharan out of Kochi Metro

The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) Director Board’s decision to rake up a norm reportedly brought in recently by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), has invited flak from different quarters.

This will not only unduly delay the Kochi Metro, but will also increase the project cost, they said. Reacting to the board’s insistence that the consent of the DMRC’s director board is a must for any metro project that the agency takes up outside Delhi, its principal advisor E Sreedharan told mediapersons that “this was new information for him. The project cost is steeply escalating because of the delay and people must take up the issue,” he said.

Sources in the agency said KMRL must formally request DMRC to participate in the project. “Only then will DMRC’s board include this in their agenda and take it for discussion.”

Former Union Minister of State for Railways O Rajagopal, who was for over a year the MoS of the Union Urban Development Ministry, said attempts were made by “a few elements” from the beginning to keep DMRC’s principal advisor E Sreedharan away from Kochi Metro project. “People in power, especially at the Centre, knew that there was no scope for corruption if he was at the helm. So, they are dilly dallying on handing over the works to DMRC.”

He added that this was not the handiwork of bureaucrats alone. “Their political masters want the project to be a milch cow and are hence playing games.” As for politicians at power in the State, Mr Rajagopal said they were playing a clever game. “Knowing the huge public support for Mr Sreedharan, they are [publicly] advocating his involvement in the project. But they are secretly working to keep him at bay.”

He referred to how George Bernard Shaw’s comment of how bureaucrats cite a 100 reasons for not taking up a development project. “As MoS of the Urban Ministry when the first phase of Delhi Metro was commissioned, I saw for myself how neatly and efficiently DMRC undertook the work.”

Inaugurating a march taken out by the DYFI here on Friday to KMRL office demanding quick handover of the project to DMRC, former Railway Minister and Speaker M Vijayakumar said KMRL Board was citing one rule or the other deliberately to keep DMRC away from the project. Earlier, they cited Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) norms and also spoke of how JICA might deny a loan if the work was entrusted with the DMRC till Mr Sreedharan asserted that loan was not a problem.

“A PSU like DMRC can easily be entrusted with the works without violating norms. The CVC clearly states that this can be done bilaterally (involving the KMRL and DMRC) provided the progress of works is reviewed every three months and there is Central audit. Kochi Metro’s decision makers are hiding this aspect. Friday’s Board decision is shrouded in mystery,” Mr Vijayakumar said.

“Friday’s KMRL board decision is the result of politician-official nexus, aimed at keeping Mr Sreedharan out of the project,” said P Rajeev, MP. DMRC board meeting was convened just a few days before KMRL board meeting, for this purpose. The five members from the State in KMRL’s 10-member board should have asserted that the project be handed over to the DMRC, he said.

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