The war of words between archrivals DMK and AIADMK over >Metro Rail continued on Friday with the former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi asking Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to clarify when her government had taken a decision about the project.
Responding to Ms. Jayalalithaa’s statement that the seeds for the project were sown in 2003, Mr. Karunanidhi asked that if it were so, on what date was the issue discussed in the cabinet or when the foundation stone was laid.
“Between 2003 and 2006, Ms. Jayalalithaa was chief minister. Can she announce what percentage of Metro rail work was initiated during this three year period?” he asked.
Listing out the efforts taken by his government in this regard, he said it had ordered Detailed Project Report (DPR) and handed over the work to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
The project was listed as Special Initiative under his direct supervision and later transferred to his son and then Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, he said.
The DPR was later approved by the cabinet in November 2007 and a Special Purpose Vehicle formed the next month, he said in a statement in Chennai.
Mr. Karunanidhi recalled that after securing 59 per cent of the total loan amount from Japanese International Cooperation Agency, besides share capitals and loans from both the Centre and state government, the Union Cabinet had in January 2009 approved the project.
But soon after taking over in 2011, the AIADMK government had not laid stress on >Metro Rail but instead opted for Monorail, with mention about it being made in successive Governor’s addresses and budgets, before the ruling party ‘changed its mind.’
Countering Ms. Jayalalithaa on the launch of works regarding Metro Rail construction, Mr. Karunanidhi said Mr. Stalin had green flagged it in June 2009.
On Ms. Jayalalithaa’s contention that Mr. Karunanidhi had given the nod for the Tamil Nadu government to sign an MoU on fixing fares and “he does not have any locus standi to talk” about rates, he asked if he had approved the present tariff of Rs. 40 for a 10 km journey.
Incidentally, the issue of high fares had been raised by all political parties in the state, he added.
The first phase of the Rs. 14,600 crore-Chennai Metro Rail, the Alandur-Koyambedu sector, was flagged off by Ms. Jayalalithaa on Monday.
Since then the two Dravidian parties have been sparring over claiming credit for the transport service.
Meanwhile, PMK ridiculed the war of words between DMK and AIADMK as it being “akin to fighting to name an unborn child,” saying Chennai Metro will be remembered not as an achievement, but as a public project “unduly delayed by incapable, corrupt governments.”
The party’s Youth Wing president MP Anbumani Ramadoss said that while Moscow, London, and New York had established similar services 80-150 years ago, the Dravidian parties could be praised if they had brought the service here 30 years ago and networked the entire city.
“Even within India, Chennai got a metro service 31 years after Kolkata. Can this be an achievement or prestigious accomplishment?” he asked.
While Delhi completed its Metro in four years, extending it across 194 km to connect three states, Chennai took six years to complete just 10.15 kilometres, he said.
“Jayalalithaa who had said on more than one occasion that Monorail is the answer to Chennai’s traffic chaos and Metro is not much utilitarian, is now claiming credit for the Metro. On the other hand, DMK rulers who announced the project in 2006 laid the foundation only in 2009 and caused undue delay claim false credit,” he said.