Pune Metro approval hinges on Underground or Elevated decision

Pune: The Centre wants the state government to decide if the city wants an elevated or underground metro and has made it clear that it would provide limited funds for the project leaving it to the city to raise money if it decides to go with an underground metro.

The project came up for discussion recently following a visit by Union development minister M Venkaiah Naidu. The minister, who was in the city on Tuesday, held discussions with various leaders and officials. Speaking to reporters after his press briefing, Naidu had stated that an underground metro was not a feasible and that Pune, like other cities, will have to get an elevated metro as suggested by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Naidu told that the underground metro was “preferable” but “not feasible”. He said that if the city wants to build an underground metro it will have to take care of funding and the Centre cannot provide the funds for such projects.

“I will talk to the chief minister. The delay is because technical and financial issues were being raised and these matters needed to be addressed,” said Naidu. He added that once these issues are addressed, the Centre will not take time to approve the project.

One of the senior state officials said the state government can go ahead with the DMRC report once the PMC makes it clear that the state must approve the DMRC report for elevated metro. “If the city wants an underground metro, then the entire process will have to be started right from beginning. The new detailed project report has to be prepared for an underground metro,” said an official.

India’s Metro Man E Sreedharan has said that metro projects are highly capital intensive. An elevated type of Metro, will cost about Rs 200 crore per km and if it is an underground one, the cost will be about Rs 450 crore per km. The returns for metro rail are very slow, mainly because of the compulsion to keep the ticket prices low.

In 2013, E Sreedharan had expressed his displeasure over the delay in Pune’s metro project. He had said that valuable time has been lost in unnecessary wrangles over the project, which he felt would result in cost overruns and affect the overall infrastructure development of the city.

“I was privileged to prepare a detailed project report for the Pune metro system ….But the city has lost valuable years. The metro project has many advantages and Pune was on the threshold of realizing the project. But unnecessary wrangles have delayed it and we are not well set to launch the project,” he had said, adding that the Delhi metro and Konkan railway projects were completed in time without any cost escalations as there were no agitations and hurdles along the way.