Modi’s metro rail project to see Rs 6K cr financial closure by May

Burning the midnight oil, the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Metrolink Express Gandhinagar – Ahmedabad (MEGA) project is set to witness the financial closure of Rs 6,000 crore for its first phase in next couple months.

The nodal agency for the project has finalised a consortium of SBI, Bank of India and IDBI to work out on raising the requisite fund of Rs 6,000 crore for the first phase, which is expected to be closed by May.

“On a positive note we have seen MEGA being mentioned both in the Union as well as Gujarat state budget recently. Typically, the central government picks up a 25 per cent stake in a metro project and we hope to see the same will happen in case of MEGA. For now, there will be a consortium of several banks led by SBI, Bank of India and IDBI who will soon look for financial closure of Rs 6,000 crore for the first phase of the project which should happen by May,” said Sanjay Gupta, ex-IAS and chairman of MEGA.

Gupta, who is also chairman of the Ahmedabad-based Neesa Group, said that the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has also written a letter to the Centre for the 25 per cent central funding for the project.

“We are indeed on a fast-track on the metro project. The Gujarat government has also committed its 15 per cent share of financial support. The rest 50-60 per cent of the total project cost will be raised through debt sources. This is where the banks have been roped in and the first phase funding of Rs 6,000 crore should see closure soon,” said Gupta. In the recent state budget, finance minister Nitin Patel allocated additional Rs 500 crore for the project, over and above the Rs 377-odd crore received so far from Gujarat government. The project cost is being estimated at around Rs 18,000 crore.

The metro rail project, which looks to evolve from mass rapid transport system (MRTS) to metro-cum-regional rail transport system (MRRTS) to cater to not just the state’s capital Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad but also surrounding towns.

The entire project has been divided into three phases where in the first phase will cover 38.9 km with 24 stations at the cost of Rs 6,000 crore and is expected to be operational by 2016. The rest two phases will cover 13.1 km and 30.3 km with 12 and 17 stations and are expected to be operational by 2018 and 2021, respectively. While first phase will look to connect Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar to AEC in Ahmedabad along with Sachivalaya – the Gujarat government headquarters – as well as Mahatma Mandir, the venue for Vibrant Gujarat Summits.

The project will see rolling stock of 2-car and 4-car composition will run at an average speed of 45 kmph with a maximum capacity of 100 kmph. “We will look to incorporate the latest technology in designing and constructing both tracks as well as rolling stocks,” Gupta added. The agency will soon be inviting bids for the rolling stock.

The project will feature pre-dominantly elevated track with ballast-less tracks and driver-less air-conditioned coaches with GPS-based rail tracking system.

By 2041, the agency estimates the traffic in the region to reach a whopping 5.7 million people.