With local member of Parliament (MP) Kirron Kher reiterating her stand on non-viability of Metro link in Chandigarh, her statement has once again raised a question mark whether the project will see light of the day or not. The MP, during a media interaction on Wednesday, had clearly said that “I don’t think Chandigarh needs Metro link. It involves a huge budget. I don’t want the city to be uprooted.” However, UT officials say the final call on the project will be taken by the Centre government.
Stating it’s not a financially viable project, the MP had said the solution to the problem of increasing vehicles is a ring road. “However, it is my personal opinion and I don’t want to go against my party’s stand, though I will fight for it.”
Meanwhile, many UT bureaucrats also agreed to the MP’s point of view that “Metro is not a financially viable project and will put a huge financial burden on the exchequer.
A senior UT officer, seeking anonymity, said, “The project can come up only if it is financially viable. Even if it gets started, it will not be easy to maintain it, as Metro involves huge investment on maintenance.”
However, another officer said the Metro could be a white elephant if the administration fails to finds out ways to turn it into a profitable venture. “A module needs to be worked out to turn the Metro project profitable. Expenses can be borne through advertisements and other means,” he added.
Finance secretary Sarvjit Singh said, “We have started the process. A Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be sent to the Centre soon. The final call on the feasibility of the Metro project will be taken by the Centre only.”
The Union ministry of urban development will provide 50% funds for the project, while the rest will be borne by the UT. Sources say the estimated cost of the project has jumped from Rs 10,900 crore to Rs 13,600 crore in the past seven years. They add after the formation of the Greater Chandigarh Transport Corporation (GCTC) this year, the work will get started. The Punjab and Haryana high court had also given its nod for the project. Though the MP is not in its favour, UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki earlier this year had told HT that the Metro project was the only affordable solution to tackle traffic congestion.
Doubts over project
The total length of the Metro project covering Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula is 37.57km. The major portion of the two corridors falls in Chandigarh. Doubts have been raised over financial viability and the relatively low population of the city since very beginning. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) had stated that the Metro project will not be commercially viable till 2051 due to poor Peak-Hour Peak-Direction Traffic (PHPDT). It meant that the facility needs to be used by 40,000-70,000 passengers at the peak hour in peak traffic to ensure viability, which is expected to be achieved only in 2051.