DMRC likely to participate in monorail projects

The Union Urban Development Ministry’s decision to permit the involvement of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in the Kochi Metro project is being seen as the result of political pressure exerted by the State government.

The Opposition too had launched an all-out campaign to ensure that the agency implemented the project.

The technical and supervisory help of the DMRC head office in Delhi will provide an impetus to the project. Already, the DMRC Kochi unit and Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) together have over 60 employees, most of whom are technical experts.

The decision on the DMRC’s involvement in the Kochi Metro is being seen as the culmination of overwhelming public support for the agency that had built up over the years. This had prompted the stakeholders and decision makers, many of whom reportedly made attempts to keep the DMRC away from the project, to have a relook at their stand. The credibility and track record that the agency had built up over the past 15 years under the stewardship of E. Sreedharan stood it in good stead, since people were fed up with civil works undertaken by many other agencies that dragged on for years or were embroiled in scams.

The Rs.5,182-crore project that was mooted in 2004 to decongest Kochi would link Aluva with Pettah through M.G. Road.

Other projects

Friday’s decision would also reflect in the DMRC’s involvement in the Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram monorail projects, the high-speed rail corridor, and a few bridge projects in Kochi. Over a month ago, its Director Board took a decision that its nod was required for the agency to undertake works outside Delhi. This was widely interpreted as a hasty decision that was taken to keep the DMRC out of the Kochi Metro project.

As Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in New Delhi on Friday, the DMRC was involved with the Metro project from 2004 when it was entrusted with the task of preparing the detailed project report.

Minister for Transport Aryadan Mohammed and Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi and K.V. Thomas along with Mr. Chandy met Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday.

In 2009, the then Left Democratic Front (LDF)-led government had entrusted the DMRC with the preparatory works for the Metro project — building two overbridges and widening three arterial roads in Kochi.

Subsequently, attempts were made within the State and at the Centre to hand over the Metro’s work to private players, by inviting global tenders. The DMRC’s then Managing Director and currently Principal Adviser E. Sreedharan was among those who had highlighted the perils of involving private players. The plight of the Hyderabad and Mumbai metros, which encountered delays and were caught in scams after being handed over to private firms, were cited as examples.

Addressing mediapersons on Friday, Ms Sheila Dikshit said that steps would be taken to ensure that the DMRC’s involvement in the Kochi Metro would not affect the works on phase three and four of Delhi Metro.

Mr. Chandy said that a committee comprising the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Delhi would in tandem with the Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna ready the terms of agreement (about the DMRC’s involvement in the project).

Interestingly, Kochi Metro covers a distance of only 25 km, while the Delhi Metro is over 400 km and the DMRC has ample number of personnel for the purpose. The DMRC’s Kochi project office has over 30 technical experts led by a Project Director, while KMRL — the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed for the Metro was in the process of recruiting more technical staff.

The DMRC’s technical experts in Kochi include a Joint GM, four Deputy GMs, three managers, three assistant managers and a team of 23 engineers. The KMRL, led by MD, too is on a hiring mode, seeking the service of personnel who were associated with metro rails across the world. The Kochi-based technical personnel are expected to act in tandem with the DMRC’s head office, for the Kochi Metro.

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