Till now the Centre was urging only cities with two million plus population to attain the system

The Union Urban Development Ministry, which has been urging cities with two million plus population to pitch in for a Metro system, is now considering extending the efficient mass transit system to cities with lesser populace.

The proposal stems from the need to decongest cities, enhance the ease of commuting on public transport and to improve the link between the suburbs and the main city centres. If the proposal gets approved, more than 50 cities with a million plus population in States like Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir among many others will benefit.

As on date, the two million plus population cities are being encouraged to send proposals for a Metro system, but with smaller cities showing interest in the Metro, the Ministry is contemplating relaxing the norms and drafting a common set of rules for all Metro projects. The cities with less than two million will, however, have to fulfil the requirements of finance and footfalls.

Indore for example has recently invited tender for drafting a detailed project report on the feasibility of a Metro.

“Why should a Metro system be planned only on the basis of the population within the city? We need to look at bridging the gap between the suburbs and the city, bringing people from far to within the city centre. The idea of a Metro was to offer the lower and the middle classes who stay outside the city limit an efficient transport system,” said an official of the Ministry.

The proposal also complements the requirement of another scheme – transit-oriented development which is being implemented in several cities, including New Delhi, with the aim to decongest cities and develop suburbs and satellite towns.

Cities with under two million population will have to prepare a detailed project report and show adequate means of funding and prove that the passenger traffic of at least 4,000 persons per hour per direction will be met.

“They will have to follow the prevalent pattern where the Centre pitches in with 20 per cent of the funds, 50 per cent will have to come from them and the remaining will have to be raised through loans. We encourage public private partnership mode of operation and they will have to prove the project is viable,” the official said.

The Centre will also reimburse 50 per cent of the money spent on preparing the DPR. “But the initiative to have a Metro has to come from the city and the State, the Ministry can only help with funds and other provisions,” the official said.

Among the cities that have submitted a DPR and are awaiting the Centre’s nod are Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Pune.

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