OTHERS

Metro plan delayed

NEW DELHI, JULY 6.

The 8.3-km-long Shahdara-Tis Hazari section of the upcoming Metro Rail, scheduled to become operational by March 2002, will now be delayed by six to nine months.

``The Metro rail has now been delayed by six months. It is not possible to complete the Shahdara-Tishazari section on time as had been earlier fixed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation,'' conceded the state Transport Minister, Mr. Parvez Hashmi.

This delay has not been due to non-completion of any of the work by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. In fact, nearly 75 per cent of the civil works has been completed and the entire track and all the infrastructural facilities -- including electrical, signaling, telecommunications and ticketing -- are most likely be ready for the rail coaches to play, as scheduled, by March 2002.

The delay has been on account of the decision to shift from the standard gauge -- a prevalent practise world wide for all the metros -- to the broad gauge, which is the standard in India. As a result, Delhi Metro which has been importing the entire technology from abroad, was forced to change its strategy.

Consequently, it is only about month and-a-half ago that the DMRC awarded the contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and commissioning of the passenger rolling stock to a consortium of three companies -- Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan; Mitsubishi Electrical, Japan and Koros from South Korea.

While the rolling stock for the standard gauge was available off the shelf in the international market, it has not only to be designed, but also tested and manufactured specifically to suit Indian conditions for broad gauge.

``Rolling Stock for the standard gauge is a tried, tested and proven system, but this is not the case with the broad gauge. Here everything has to be done afresh and for the first time. Once it is designed and tested we will have to take technical clearance from the Railways,'' officials said.

As the rolling stock would be designed specifically for the Delhi Metro, this would have to pass through a number of severe tests before it is finally put on for passenger use, they said.

Though DMRC officials now have started conceding the delay, this section, they insist this will have no impact on the scheduled completion of the entire first phase of 55.3 km, including 11 km of underground corridor, by March 2005 without cost escalation.

``It is only the internal target that we set for ourselves which is now being delayed by a couple of months. As of now, we do not know when this will start, but certainly the Shahdara-Tis Hazari section would become operational in 2002,'' they said.

The Metro rail, which began its construction activity on October 1, 1998, has been compressed by three years to meet the original 10-year deadline, approved by the Government in 1996.