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Indigenisation of metro components can boost the Make in India project

The Union government set up a panel under former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan to lay down norms for standardisation and indigenisation of components, which will be used by metros being built or those that will be built with the Centre’s financial help

editorials Updated: Jun 28, 2018 09:48 IST
Hindustan Times
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The Centre has approved five metro projects — Indore, Bhopal, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi (phase 4) — at an estimated cost of Rs 1.07 lakh crore(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

India’s creaky mass public transport infrastructure and efforts at decongesting the cities got a boost this week with the Centre announcing that it has given an in-principle approval to five proposed metro projects — Indore, Bhopal, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi (phase 4) — at an estimated cost of Rs 1.07 lakh crore. Besides these projects, the Rs 32,000 crore Delhi-Meerut corridor of the proposed Rapid Rail Transit System has also got an in-principle clearance.

This announcement to expand the metro network of the country should be read along with an equally crucial development that took place last week: the Union government set up a panel under former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan to lay down norms for standardisation and indigenisation of components, which will be used by metros being built or those that will be built with the Centre’s financial help.

The twin objectives are in line with the metro policy approved by the Union government in 2017, which emphasised the need to standardise and indigenise components to help in cutting construction and operation costs. At present, only the rolling stock and communication systems of the metro systems are standardised. This means that metro systems are buying the other components from different vendors, mostly foreign, according to their specifications. This obviously is pushing up costs , which is not good news for a mass transport system. In the West, every metro has the same standards, the same signalling system and track gauge, and even similar stations.

The plan to standardise and indigenise is important because work on 537 km is in progress in 13 cities. Besides, metro projects with a total length of 595 km across 10 new cities are at various stages of planning and appraisal. Currently, metro projects with a total length of 370 km are operational in eight cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai. These projects will not be brought under the ambit of this scheme.

Standardisation will not just help in lowering costs, product development and designing of components, but also in its manufacturing, distribution and service and long-term maintenance. Indigenisation could help increase local content in the conditions of procurement, encouraging bulk tendering for similar components, giving component manufacturers a reason to set up units in India. This could then positively impact the employment generation and skill development sectors, and in the process give a strong push to the NDA’s ‘Make in India’ programme, which is yet to become a substantial success.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 09:48 IST