Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The State government will promulgate an ordinance shortly to arm itself with powers to execute, operate and maintain the metro rail project in the twin cities all by itself, without any control from the railways.

The draft AP Municipal Tramways Ordinance, prepared on the lines of the ones adopted in West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra and New Delhi, will empower the government to implement tramway systems/metro rail projects with “dedicated right of way” within the municipal areas other than those covered by Indian Railways.

The proposed ordinance which was approved by the Cabinet at its meeting here on Wednesday, also provides for appointment of a “safety commissioner” to certify the mass transit projects before permitting them for public use. Information Minister A. Ramanarayan Reddy later told reporters that the ordinance became necessary as otherwise, the project would suffer procedural delays if handed over to the railways.

He said the Rs. 9,696-crore project for which the Centre had already sanctioned Rs. 2,000 crore towards “gap funding” and “agreed” to sanction another 10 per cent of the outlay, would be implemented through Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited. The State would meet 10 per cent of the cost. N. V. S. Reddy, MD, HMRL, said the financial bids for the project were due by July 4.

Fertilizers

The Cabinet nominated Markfed as the nodal agency to ensure distribution of fertilizers/pesticides to farmers at MRP price by itself meeting the transport, insurance and storage costs. The meeting cleared the release of Rs. 22.75 crore to Markfed to reimburse these costs.

The meeting sanctioned a hike in the rate of the mid-day meal scheme by Re 1 per head to absorb the increased prices of commodities required for the scheme. This will place an additional burden of Rs. 142.14 crore annually on the exchequer.