NEW DELHI

Refrain from telling lies, Khurana told

NEW DELHI JAN. 3. Warning that continued politicisation of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) could affect the pace of the project, Delhi's Transport Minister, Ajay Maken, today lashed out at the BJP president, Madan Lal Khurana, for telling "lies'' and "hiding facts'' for fear of being exposed that he was the chief culprit behind the derailment of the Metro Rail project during his tenure as Delhi's Chief Minister.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Maken accused Mr. Khurana of misusing his position as the DMRC Chairman and using that platform for political purposes. "The claims of Mr. Khurana with regard to clearance of the Dwarka-Connaught Place corridor and starting of work on this section are nothing but misleading and beyond truth. The factual situation is that work on this corridor has already begun at various places and the soil-testing exercise was completed in November 2002 contrary to the claims of the DMRC Chief that work will begin in February this year,'' he said.

Stating that Mr. Khurana had sidelined the Metro project and opted for a High Speed Tram system, the Transport Minister released the tender documents issued during Mr. Khurana's tenure as Chief Minister inviting bids for High Speed Tram System in 1994. The Dwarka-Connaught Place corridor was included in the tram project despite the fact that this was part of the Metro Rail corridor suggested in the Detailed Project Report submitted by RITES in 1989. "Mr. Khurana owes an explanation to the people of Delhi as to why this corridor was delayed and hived off from the Metro project. What was the reason that despite getting the RITES DPR on this corridor, why the project was not taken up and wiped out by Mr. Khurana and his team of advisors,'' he asked.

Mr. Maken said the BJP leader was lying that the project was started during his time and that the DMRC was formed by him. "It is high time Mr. Khurana realised that the Metro Rail project is too prestigious to involve politics into it. He should not get into petty politics and just stick to facts, otherwise he will find it difficult to sustain his lies for long. The Delhi Government has spent nearly Rs. 1,000 crores on the project but never at any point of time did it shout from the rooftop to claim credit for it. He should refrain from telling lies all the time and misleading the people of Delhi with politics always in mind. This is the same man who derailed the Metro Rail project as the Chief Minister.''

Mr. Maken also decried Mr. Khurana making statements that he was planning to meet the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, to seek concessions on sales tax and other matters for the Metro Rail project. "Mr. Khurana has got into the habit of putting his foot in the mouth whenever he speaks. The Chief Minister has already, on December 19, during the meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM), agreed to the tax concessions worth Rs. 400 crores and subsequent announcement was also made. I fail to understand that for what he is planning to meet Ms.Dikshit when a decision in this regard has already been taken by the Congress Government,'' he stated.

Referring to the role of the Central Government in the Metro Rail project, Mr. Maken said that Delhi Government extended all cooperation but pointed out that despite having cleared the Phase II of the Metro Rail corridor in October last, the matter is still lying pending with the Vajpayee Government. A sum of Rs. 5 crore is required for the DPR to be prepared by RITES for the second phase but the Centre is sitting on the issue and no reply has been received from their end.

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