India’s ‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make Metro a complete ‘Make in India’ project to bring down costs and benefit commuters, who got a jolt when fares were hiked steeply in Delhi recently.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has now sought views from the Union urban development (UD) ministry on Sreedharan’s letter, which calls for complete indigenisation of Metro projects across the country.
It was under Sreedharan’s leadership that Metro became a reality in Delhi. Besides running its rail network in the Capital, currently Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is also involved in implementing and preparing project reports for several ongoing Metro projects, including Kochi, Jaipur and Greater Noida.
In his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UD minister M Venkaiah Naidu, the DMRC principal advisor has called for setting up of a special mission mode team under DMRC to master specific technology for which Metro is now dependent on foreign suppliers.
According to Sreedharan, the average cost of an elevated metro comes to Rs 250 crore per kilometre while that of underground metro is Rs 400 crore/km.
“Unless indigenisation is taken up seriously and vigorously it will not be possible to reduce cost of Metro projects,” he said.
While DMRC is self-sufficient in almost all aspects of Metro construction, be it civil works, power supply and traction, there are two vital safety areas where it is still dependent on foreign manufacturers—signalling and telecommunications and automatic fare collection.
Sreedharan said that with our talent pool of hardware and software engineers, India can easily master the technology. This will bring down the cost by 50%.
“… If we are able to assemble a team of experts with a leader to inspire, enthuse and guide them, I am sure the country can crack the technology and master them,” he said.
Sreedharan has requested the Centre to make available funds for this purpose. “Knowing the dedication and calibre of DMRC engineers, I can assure you that the investment made will come back to the country ten times in the very first two years of completion of this project,” he said in the letter.