Amid allegations that concerted attempts are being made to keep the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) out of the Kochi Metro Rail project, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asserts that the next meeting of the director board will take a call on the issues concerned.

The board must solve the issues so that the work begins at the earliest, Mr. Chandy told The Hindu on the telephone on Friday.

The director board meeting here on October 19 is expected to identify the agency to execute the project, the technology to be adopted, and other pertinent details, sources said.

The controversy over handing over the execution of the system of mass rapid transport to the DMRC arose after major stakeholders, including Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed, cited the need to abide by Central government norms. Those opposed to handing over the execution of the civil and allied works to the DMRC assert the need to invite global tenders. They say that this will help build a fourth-generation metro rail in Kochi.

It is also pointed out that Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) norms are against awarding the contract for a project to an agency which did the consultancy for the project.

The DMRC counters this by saying that it has been officially associated only with preparing the detailed project report for Kochi Metro. It is noteworthy that it is both the consultant and executing agency for Jaipur Metro.

Even the DMRC opts for a global tender to execute the project, provided the firm has an Indian partner, DMRC sources said. “Moreover, the DMRC is the only agency in India with a proven track record to construct metro rails in a time-bound and cost-effective manner,” its Principal Adviser E. Sreedharan said recently.

Reacting to concerns that the Japan International Cooperation Agency will deny a loan (at 1.50 per cent interest) if there is no global tender, Mr. Sreedharan said the agency had promised to provide the loan if the DMRC was associated with the project.

Officials associated with the project say that a unilateral decision cannot be taken on the project now. “The 10-member board must discuss all the issues and take a collective decision on Friday.”

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