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Updated: September 5, 2012 11:53 IST

‘Metro won’t piggyback on govt money’

John L. Paul
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Sreedharan says Metro will not piggyback on State largesse

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation will ensure that the Kochi Metro Rail project does not piggyback on government subsidy, the agency’s Principal Adviser, E. Sreedharan, said here on Tuesday.

He told The Hindu that the Kochi Metro Rail must be able to sustain itself without government subsidy. “Only then will it be able to repay the loan (of Rs 2,174 crore) expected to be obtained from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) at an interest of 1.3 per cent. The loan works out to 44 per cent of the total project cost,” he said.

Worldwide, Metro rail projects do not run on profit. But the Delhi Metro Rail will ensure that the Kochi project has operational surplus by adopting a slew of innovative measures, Mr Sreedharan said.

When the automatic train operation system is introduced, trains can run with or without drivers. “This method of reducing the expenditure on manpower will be introduced in the third phase of the Delhi Metro project,” Mr. Sreedharan said. The trains in Kochi will initially have drivers.

The Metroman said he had a three-pronged strategy to make the Metro sustain on its own.

The first plan was to wrap up the work ahead of time. Instead of four years, as planned in the beginning, the work would be completed in three years. “A day’s delay in kick-starting the work (and commissioning the project) increases the cost by Rs. 40 lakh. This works out to roughly Rs. 150 crore a year — the amount that can be saved by advancing the commissioning by a year, as demanded by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy,” he said.

He referred to the project cost more than doubling from around Rs. 2,100 crore in 2005 to Rs. 5,182 crore in 2012 because of the Union government’s delay in approving it.

Secondly, the DMRC would go for the most appropriate technology. Finally, steps would be taken to whittle down running costs — expenses on manpower, electricity and materials.

So how does metro plan to curb the power gobblers? One way is to capture and use braking energy from coaches.

“As for saving energy, our rolling stock (trains) will have regenerative braking. In this, the energy used for braking will be conserved and reused. This reduces electricity consumption by 30 per cent,” Mr Sreedharan said.

Power tariff

The metro banks on the government to provide electricity on a no-profit-no-loss basis, and it has been done in New Delhi, he said.

Metro will also raise money from advertisements, commercial spaces like kiosks at metro stations and by developing property. “We hope that 15 per cent of the expenses can be covered through this. Moreover, the introduction of feeder services (mini-buses) from major points to metro stations will increase the ridership and thereby the revenue.”

He assured that all these measures will be in place before the project’s keys are handed over to the State government.

Answering a question on when the DMRC would begin work on the project, he said that tenders will be floated within a week of the agency signing an MoU with Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL).

“The tender to build a coach-maintenance yard at Muttom near Aluva has been finalised and the work will soon be awarded. Widening of roads such as Banerjee Road too will begin after the MoU is signed,” he said.

Mr. Sreedharan said entrusting the project execution to other agencies would further delay the project by over a year. This is because they would have to begin from scratch the designs for the via-duct, metro stations and so on and also train their personnel, he said.

He reminded that the DMRC is the sole organisation in the country with the experience and expertise in planning and implementing metro-rail projects.

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