Demand for metro man Sreedharan to take over Bhopal Metro Project

The demand to hand over the twin metro rail projects of Bhopal and Indore, running 10 years behind schedule, to eminent technocrat E. Sreedharan is gaining momentum after former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Babulal Gaur wrote a formal letter to the government.

The projects were cleared in 2010, around the time similar projects translated on ground, but was launched much later. The metro rails in Jaipur, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kochi and Nagpur were planned later but were executed in record time.

The metro rail projects in Madhya Pradesh were announced in 2007 and Gaur was the man behind getting swift permission from the Union government for the project. Gaur was keen on the project and he sanctioned the initial amount for survey of the project. The survey was conducted by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Gaur said, “The indefinite delay is due to lack of officers like Sreedharan, who can bring the desired change in the approach of government”. “We want a metro system which is suited for the requirements of Bhopal with indigenous coaches”.

The DMRC survey was, however, cancelled by state government as the Congress was ruling at the the Centre and the state did not want the Centre to interfere in the project. Thereafter, a new feasibility survey began again.

However, nothing could be done due to unavailability of funds and cold attitude of the government.  The project was to be completed through a public-private partnership (PPP), but the government did not even form a company for the purpose.

Congress leader and spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi backed Gaur’s demands. He said, “The state government lacks professionalism and a technocrat like Sreedharan will get this project done in stipulated time.”

It was in February 2015 that the Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Company was instituted for implementation of metro projects in Bhopal and Indore. Initially, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) agreed to fund the project, but due to exceptional delays it pulled out leaving the project in indefinite limbo.

In September last year, after a sarcastic tweet by Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP national general secretary and former MP minister, that the project gained some speed. Vijayvargiya had blamed the state government for delay in the project, saying the project in his state is running at a speed of a bullock cart.

After his tweet, the state government cleared the detailed project reports of the metro projects for Bhopal and Indore for Rs 14,485.55 crore within two months.  A detailed project report of Bhopal metro rail has been prepared by a German consortium.

It was declared that the projects would be completed through the Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Company Limited. It was also decided that a 60 per cent of the amount (Rs 8,691.35 crore) will be taken as loan and the rest would be shared between the the Centre and the state.

According to the plan, the first phase of Bhopal metro will have corridors of 27.87km while Indore will have a single corridor of 31.55km. After completion of all phases Bhopal Metro will run on seven routes and will have a length of 95.03km of which 84.83 km will be elevated. The first phase of Bhopal metro will run on two routes.

In absence of funds, the state government is looking for agencies who can fund the project. Chief Minister  Shivraj Singh Chouhan met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in this regard. The proposal is currently pending with the department of expenditure of the finance ministry. According to sources, the state government is persuading Union government to get funding for the two metro projects through European Investment Bank (EIB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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