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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

Delhi govt not keen to clear pending airport metro debt

Neelam Pandey and Subhendu Ray, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 14, 2014
First Published: 01:01 IST(14/2/2014) | Last Updated: 01:03 IST(14/2/2014)

Six months after the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) took over the operations of the ‘loss-making’ airport metro line, its hope to get rid of the huge debt burden just might not materialise.

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After taking over in July, the DMRC had asked the Delhi government to clear the debt of approximately Rs. 2,000 crore — 80% of the total debt —given by the lenders to the project. The union ministry of urban development (MoUD) had also written to the government, which is 50 per cent stakeholder of DMRC, to help it clear the debt.

But, according to sources, the AAP government is not keen to take on the huge financial burden and is planning to communicate it to the ministry.

“We had received a letter from the urban development ministry asking us to look into the issue and help pay the debt. The government has looked into the issue in detail and is not planning to compensate them,” said a senior Delhi government official.

Sources in the government said that the transport department was looking into the matter and would communicate its stand to the ministry soon.

Earlier, the MoUD had showed its reluctance to pay off the debt on DMRC’s behalf.

“Why should the government clear the debt when it had no role in the construction and operation of the service, which was done in a public private partnership,” said a senior Delhi government official.

As per the concessionaire agreement signed by DMRC and DAMEPL, if the service is shut due to DMRC’s fault, it would have to pay the whole debt of about Rs. 3,000 crore. If the service gets terminated due to the concessionaire’s fault, DMRC would pay 80%, which is about Rs. 2000 crore.

The matter has gone for arbitration and a decision is pending. The MoUD had asked DMRC to pay at least 80% of the total debt till the arbitration is over.

“We do not have money to pay and so we sought help from both the governments,” said Mangu Singh, chief of DMRC. “We do not know finally who will clear the debt.”

Under pressure to clear the debt, the DAMEPL has paid off a few hundred crores to the bank, which it will claim from DMRC during arbitration, said sources.


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