The empowered Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Metro rail project approved ‘in-principle’ the high-speed New Delhi railway station (NDLS)-IGI link, choosing it over the proposed extension of the Dwarka line of the rail network to the airport.
Doubts over the financial viability of the link were raised at a GoM meeting on Thursday. Even the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was not happy with the plan. But what went in favour of the NDLS-IGI link was the help airport bound foreign tourists would derive from the check-in facility at the Metro stations.
Expressing its objections, the urban development ministry said the ridership projections are meager and can be easily met by other low-cost alternatives.
It also said that the project is justifiable only if the airport is at a significantly large distance from city and the city has an identifiable city centre.
According to the ministry, Delhi lacks the infrastructure required for such an ambitious plan.
“Such high-speed dedicated linkages are viable if the distance is substantial (50-60 km) and there is high ridership,” the PMO note said.
According to the PMO note, if the ridership is around 20,000 per hour, only then would a Metro system be desirable.
In this case, it pointed out, the projection is 2,000 in the year 2011 and 4,000 in 2021. The PMO also raised questions about the fare structure.
The ministry of statistics and programme implementation said that the IGI Airport should be linked to Dwarka, which will be more economical.
It also suggested a link between the airport and Qutub Minar. The ministry of home affairs, in its note, said there are serious security concerns, as its underground portion would pass through areas where many highly sensitive government buildings are located.
The railway ministry also did not support the plan and so did the departments of expenditure and economic affairs in the ministry of finance.
Interestingly, only the ministry of civil aviation and the Delhi government have approved the project so far. Delhi Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf refused to comment on the issue.