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Sreedharan had predicted doom

delhi Updated: Jun 29, 2013 00:32 IST
Subhendu Ray
Subhendu Ray
Hindustan Times
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A public-private-partnership (PPP) model for a mass rapid transport system can never succeed in India, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan had predicted.

And the words of the former Delhi Metro chief proved prophetic on Friday as the first ever PPP model explored in a Metro project in the country — the Airport Metro Express Line in the national Capital — met with abject failure.

Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL), a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, and the concessionaire for the 22.7 km high-speed corridor connecting Dwarka via IGI Airport to the heart of the city at New Delhi station has decided to terminate its agreement.

Sreedharan had opposed the proposed PPP model for the line. “PPP in Metro or any other urban transport project will never be successful in India,” he had told HT earlier. According to him, private investment has not been successful in urban transport projects because the usually unstable revenues of these projects make them commercially unviable.

As early as in February 2011, Sreedharan had threatened to take over the Airport Metro Express corridor because he was unhappy with the company’s poor services. “We can take over … there is a provision in the agreement for taking over,” he had said.

DAMEPL’s decision to breach the agreement with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has raised questions whether the Union ministry of urban development (MoUD) would explore such models in future. Secretary MoUD, Sudhir Krishna preferred not to comment, when asked.

DAMEPL has been struggling to run the service on the line ever since the operations were launched in February 2011. According to sources, it was incurring loss of over R1 crore per day.

In February last year, when the Metro service on the corridor was suspended for over six months following identification of major faults in the civil structure, Reliance Infrastructure had offered to quit the Airport Metro Express citing financial non-viability. The DMRC, however, had rejected Reliance’s agreement termination plea.