Delhi Metro Rail adviser Sreedharan says Tamil Nadu government should not have axed plan to connect more areas in city with underground system, reports Meera Srinivasan
The Tamil Nadu government is making a “very serious mistake” in dropping phase-II expansion of the Chennai Metro Rail network, according to E. Sreedharan, principal adviser, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. “Despite having written to the Chief Secretary over three months ago, I have not received any response from the government,” he told The Hindu on Tuesday.
Mr. Sreedharan, who was here to receive an award from the Rotary Club of Madras, said he was disappointed with the Tamil Nadu government's decision to abandon the expansion. Observing that Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) was carrying out metro rail work in a professional way, he said: “They want its expansion, for they recognise the value in it. But the government is being very rigid.” On whether he planned to persuade the state government to change its mind, he said: “I have not thought about that so far, but maybe I could take it up. The state government should think in advance. If the expansion of metro rail has to materialise, it should undertake relevant studies now.”
The study will take about 18 months and the process of obtaining sanctions, involving the Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development and Tamil Nadu government, another 18 months. “That is over three years. It is not a good idea to have a gap between phase I and II.”
New Delhi's metro rail system — on which five other cities are modelling theirs — has proved to be a good business model because it covers 65 km in its first phase and124.63 km in its second. In Chennai, however, only 45 km will be covered as per the current proposal.
“Unless the Metro Rail system is expanded to cover several important areas, it will not be commercially viable,” he said. He said the state government's silence on extending the network up to Tiruvottiyur was also a cause of concern.
Stressing on the need to meet deadlines, he said: “Any delay will make the project unviable. In a metro project, time is money. A day lost amounts to losing crores of rupees.”
Monorail, hardly a substitute
Mr. Sreedharan said the monorail service can, at best, serve as a feeder service for metro rail.
“Chennai is a big city and at present, no system can prove as efficient and viable as the metro rail. Monorail can cater to merely one-third or one-fourth of what metro can. Moreover, the cost of operating the monorail is 50 per cent more than that of metro. It is a very costly feeder service. Metro rail, as a mass transportation system, should be seen as the backbone of urban commute,” Mr. Sreedharan said.
The monorail system coming up in Mumbai involves a cost of Rs. 170 crore per kilometre. “But metro rail will have three times the capacity. Urban transportation networks such as the metro are very capital intensive. State governments must invest in them keeping long-term requirements in mind,” he said.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is currently working on a detailed project report for the Kerala government, exploring the possibility of running high-speed trains connecting the state with other cities.
“These trains will enhance inter-city connectivity. Since they will either be underground or elevated, there is no hassle of land acquisition or disrupting village or city life,” he said.