According to a senior state govt official, the previous route alignment was not economically viable nor technically feasible
The new management at the ambitious Metrolink Express between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad Company Ltd (MEGA) is on an ‘undo’ mode.
From returning the already disbursed first tranche of funding of Rs.600 crore to a consortium of banks to working on a new Detailed Project Report (DPR) and issuance of fresh tenders for global consultants, the new management team led by former chief secretary Manjula Subramaniam as its chairman is making a fresh start on Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s pet project.
Post exit of former bureaucrat Sanjay Gupta in October 2013, the state government’s initiative had seen appointment of Subramaniam as chairman and senior IAS officer IP Gautam as vice chairman of MEGA, along with another IAS officer Vijay Nehra as its chief executive officer. However, the new management is now looking to start afresh on almost all aspects of the project including preparing a fresh DPR, conducting house surveys and deciding on a new route alignment for the first phase of the project.
According to a senior state government official, the previous route alignment for phase one between Ahmedabad and state capital Gandhinagar was not economically viable nor technically feasible. Moreover, approval was not sought from all the stakeholders for the previous DPR, the official alleged.
“In the earlier route, the passenger density was less and population density which is crucial to a metro project was very low. Plus, instead of BRTS and metro rail running criss-cross and complementing each other, the previous DPR suggested that they should run parallel which resulted in them competing each other. Moreover, scientific and household surveys were also not done properly,” the official added.
What’s more, a consortium of banks had also sanctioned a debt funding of over Rs 3000 crore for MEGA and released a sum of around Rs.600 crore as well. However, the new management has returned the released money. “The state government has already made a budgetary provision of Rs.500 crore and MEGA has sufficient funding for now. It didn’t need to keep the debt and continue paying interest on it. So the funding was returned to the consortium of banks,” the official added.
The nodal agency that looks after implementation of first such metro project in Gujarat will now see a new DPR being prepared as well as new route alignment and phasing of the project, apart from finalising a fresh financial model for the project. MEGA has set the end of the current financial year as the target for completing all the procedures.
“By the end of the financial year 2013-14, all household surveys, traffic studies, geo technical investigations, new DPR, alignment, phasing and new financial model will be completed. The company looks to involve all the stakeholders this time for the project,” the official added.
MEGA also looks to issue fresh tenders for global consultants since no work order was allotted to winners of the previous tender, the official stated.
However, while the previous DPR sets the deadline for the phase one in October 2018, the new management is bullish on achieving the said deadline. “It would be the management’s endeavour to stick to the October 2018 deadline. Anyway, the construction is likely to begin in 2015 which would give ample time for MEGA to complete the project,” the official further stated.