‘Union Ministers should push for the project'
. The execution of the Kochi metro-rail project as a Centre-State joint venture project is very much under the Centre's consideration, the MD of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation E. Sreedharan has said.
The Union Urban Transport Ministry is processing the matter so that it can forwarded to the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs (CCEA), he said.
He criticised the statement by the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman M. S. Ahluwalia early this week that the Centre would be unable to pool in funds for the project.
“The Commission had given in writing its nod for the project six months ago. Mr. Ahluwalia's statement is his personal opinion,” he said.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Sreedharan said that all that the Centre needs to give is Rs. 600 crore over a four-year period.
This works out to just Rs 150 crore each year, when the total Union budgetary allocation for different projects is over Rs 2 lakh crore.
“The State Government would contribute its share and the rest would be borrowed from international lending agencies. Each day's delay would increase the cost of the over-Rs. 3,000- crore project by Rs 30 lakh. The average cost of building a km of rails, stations, repair yards, coaches and signals was Rs 110 crore a few years ago. This has already gone up to Rs 130 crore because of the delays, especially the ones caused by a small section of people who are opposed to the project's alignment through the city. Bureaucratic hassles too are causing delays” he said.
Referring to the fast pace at which metro-rail projects, especially in Chennai are coming up, he said that the Centre gave its nod for the Chennai project (which was mooted a few years after the Kochi project) within a month of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi taking up the issue with the Centre.
On the contrary, Central agencies are opposing the Kochi project despite Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan taking up the issue many times with the Prime Minister.
Reasserting that the project would ultimately come through, Mr. Sreedharan said that Union Ministers representing Kerala must have unanimity on the project.
With the Union Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission objecting to Central help and suggesting private partnership, the final nod for the project is being awaited from the CCEA.