Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be requested to participate in the foundation stone laying function for the Rs. 14,600-crore Chennai Metro Rail Project, M. Ramachandran, Union Urban Development Secretary and Chairman of the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), a special purpose vehicle floated by the State government for implementing the project, said on Friday.
Dr. Ramachandran, who earlier met Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at the Secretariat, told reporters that in his discussion with the Chief Minister, he mooted the proposal of inviting Dr. Singh for the event and Mr. Karunanidhi approved it. “We will work out the date in a couple of months,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister had inaugurated other Metro Rail projects.
Expressing satisfaction over the progress of the project, the CMRL chief said the work was underway to construct an elevated viaduct for 4.5 km [from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar]. The overall project would be completed by January 2015. Of the total length of 45 km, the portion for 24 km would be underground and the remainder elevated.
[Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin inaugurated the piling work for the viaduct construction in June. The project will have two corridors - Washermenpet to Chennai airport and the Central station to St. Thomas Mount. Two stretches - Washermanpet to Saidapet and the Central station to Anna Nagar 2nd Avenue – will be underground].
Dr. Ramachandran pointed out that compared to Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, the Chennai Metro Rail project was the largest in terms of size and cost.
Referring to similar projects in other southern States, he said the work in Bangalore was going on and Hyderabad was taking the private route to have metro. Kochi had sought the Centre’s approval for a similar project. The importance and relevance of metro rail had been fully understood and appreciated in the south.
Noting that metro rail systems, generally, the world over were not profit-making propositions, Dr. Ramachandran said the attempt was to facilitate generation of operational surplus by the time the project was commissioned. “It does not have to depend on government for subsidy,” he said.
In this context, he mentioned that he requested the State government to earmark land to the extent possible for property development for the metro rail project so that some resources were raised.
On the fare structure, he referred to the Delhi scheme where the fare was in the range of Rs. 6 to Rs. 20. Delhi had a system of a three-member review committee headed by a former judge. Issues such as periodicity and the extent of revision were decided by the committee. “The idea is that a larger number of common people should be able to afford to travel by Metro. We cannot keep it [fare] at very high levels,” he said.
As for extending the project to Thiruvottriyur in the north, Dr. Ramachandran said the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had been entrusted with the task of preparing a report, which would be available in five months.