Urban Development Ministry redrafts MoU for Chandigarh Metro, UT signatures awaited

New Delhi:  The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has redrafted the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the ambitious metro rail project of Chandigarh, which now has to be signed by its three stakeholders — Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana — before work on its execution begins.

The stakeholders had decided to do away with the public-private partnership (PPP) mode for the project in October last year. That has been drafted into the MoU now. UT administrator Shivraj Patil is said to be not in favour of PPP mode for the project since all such major projects in the country under PPP mode have been marred by delays.

The ministry has sent the redrafted MoU to the stakeholders. To set the project rolling, the ministry has also directed them to study the document and sign it at the earliest. The Chandigarh administration has written to the Punjab and Haryana governments for holding a meeting to discuss the issue.

When contacted, UT adviser KK Sharma said, “We have written to both the state governments for holding a meeting in this connection.”

The metro rail project is proposed in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar with the cost to be shared by the Centre, Chandigarh administration, Punjab and Haryana equally.

All the three stakeholders have already agreed to have 25% stake in the project. The Centre has proposed to reduce the population norm for metro rail projects to 10 lakh from the present 20 lakh.

Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu recently announced that the government intends to assist the metro project in cities having population of 10 lakh. According to the 2011 Census, the city has a total population of 10.55 lakh.

The project is running behind schedule by more than a year. The work on the first corridor covering a distance of 12.49 kilometres was expected to begin in April last year and get operational by 2018. The corridor-1 stretches from the Capitol Complex building, Sector 1, in Chandigarh to Gurdwara Singh Shaheedan in SAS Nagar.

Local BJP MP Kirron Kher had recently termed the Rs. 10,900-crore metro rail project for the city as “commercially unviable”.