KCR discusses schedule of commissioning of Hyderabad Metro with Concessionaire

Hyderabad:  In a significant development, Group Executive Chairman of Larsen & Toubro A M Naik met Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao last Tuesday for a luncheon meeting where the two sides are said to have discussed the schedule of commissioning of the project.

This is the second meeting between KCR and Naik after the CM proposed changes in Metro alignment that resulted in cold vibes between the government and the construction major. The luncheon is being viewed as a sign of rapprochement and sources said the two sides were enthusiastic about launching the project before the 2017 deadline.

Even as the TRS government is seeking to fast track the operationalization of metro rail, the swanky trains appear unlikely to chug into the Old City. The last Tuesday’s meeting came a couple of days after L&T submitted its technical appraisal report for two alignment changes, one near the assembly building and the other at Sultan Bazar.

And the report is mum about the proposed change of alignment in the Old City, which according to senior officials in the department of municipal administration and urban development (MA&UD) is an indication of both the government and L&T developing cold feet on extending the project to cover this part of Hyderabad.

“We have given the technical appraisal for the two changes at assembly and Sultan Bazar. Third proposal of the Old City is under study,” said an L&T spokesperson in an email response.

Asked to elaborate, V B Gadgil, chief executive and managing director of L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) said they were yet to take a call on the issues related to the project in Old City. “Addressing the Old City issue will take a little longer since it is comparatively difficult,” he added.

The MA&UD officials said both the government and L&T were on the same page regarding postponement of a decision on the modalities of the metro project in the Old City.

“The metro line proposed in the Old City is the part of the Corridor II (JBS to Falaknuma), and we could not start even preliminary works such as soil test in this part of this city. Apart from this, the political and commercial factors over the realignment proposal further muddled the issue. In the given situation, it is impractical to include the Old City if we want to stick to the project schedule,” said a senior official.

While the CM in June last proposed two changes in the alignment near the assembly and Sultan Bazar in order to save the aesthetics of the heritage buildings and livelihood of the traders, the MIM sought changes in the route in the Old City.

The Majlis party’s argument was that the alignment, as originally planned, would result in the demolition of several dargahs, ashoorkhanas and mosques. It demanded that the line pass along the Musi river between Darulshifa and Falaknuma, instead of passing parallel to Salar Jung Museum and the high court building.

However, it would not be easy for the government to give in to the MIM demand as the change of alignment can happen only at a huge cost. As per rough calculations, the government has to spend Rs 207 crore per km for the realignment and the change of route in the Old City would increase the project length by at least 5 km.

“Both the government and L&T are not in a position to bear this extra burden and it is convenient for them to put the idea of extending the project to the Old City on the back burner, at least for now,” said the MA&UD official