Chandigarh Metro Rail project hits roadblock over PPP model

चंडीगढ़ Chandigarh (CDG): The much delayed Metro Rail project for Tricity has hit another roadblock, this time due to objections raised by Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator Shivraj V Patil.  Sources said Patil has opposed the public-private partnership (PPP) model for the project, suggested by the Ministry of Urban Development.

This has come in the way of finalising a memorandum of undertsanding which Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and the Ministry of Urban Development have to sign to jointly develop the project. Recently, the MUD had sent a reminder to the Administration, seeking comments on its draft MoU which proposed the PPP model.

Due to the disagreement over the issue, the Administration has not even sought comments of Punjab and Haryana. Sources said that the MUD might seek the opinion of the two states on its own, rather than wait for the Chandigarh Administration to do this.

The proposal for Metro Rail has failed to make any headway after the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation submitted a detailed project report a year and a half back.

The DPR proposed two corridors in the tricity: an east-west corridor from Grain Market in Panchkula’s Sector 21 to Transport Terminus in Mullanpur, and a north-south corridor from near the Capitol Complex in Sector 1 to Gurdwara Shaheedan in Mohali.

According to the DPR, the first phase of construction was to start in April 2013. The cost of the 37.57 km project was then Rs 10,900 crore. Obviously, the cost has since gone up.  The MUD favours the PPP model because of the high cost. The Administrator, however, wants that either the government should bear the entire cost or the project should be given into private hands.

The Delhi Airport Metro line is cited as an example of failed PPP projects. A Planning Commission working group on urban transport for the 12th five-year plan had also rejected the PPP model for developing of core urban infrastructure, especially the metro.

However, there are others who believe a project like the metro cannot take off without the PPP model. Former railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, “The metro cannot be funded just by the states, there is a need for investment from the private sector and the PPP model should be followed. There is a need for the metro here to connect areas beyond the tricity region. Chandigarh is bearing the pressure of the adjoining areas. A metro would prove beneficial.”

Chandigarh has a vehicular population of around 10.07 lakh. Apart from this, there is rush of vehicles from the adjoining areas. Traffic congestion is on the rise. Several modes of public transport have been discussed over the years, but there is no clarity so far.