Metro Rail Bill: Central Unified Metro Rail Bill draft ready

The first draft of the Central Unified Metro Bill is ready, under which State governments can take up construction of Metro Rail under the common legal cover rather than go for separate Acts as was being done till now.

nsultations are under way between top officials of ongoing Metro Rail projects in the country and the Ministry of Urban Development on incorporating issues relevant to the times, including land acquisition procedures to be followed and liberal compensation for the same.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had mentioned the Metro Act in his Budget speech to bring about standardisation, making it technology neutral, giving scope for innovation, to take up projects under public-private partnership mode, and also allow building Metro lines across different States as in the case of Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).

So far, different Acts have been adopted by the States for Metro Rail projects. The Delhi Metro, for instance, followed the Kolkata Metro Act because only railways were allowed to build rail-based transport systems under the Railways Act.

To bring Metros under the Ministry of Urban Development so that States can take them up independent to the railways, high-powered ministerial panels permitted Tramways Act and this later transformed to the Central Metro Construction Act and Central Metro Operations and Maintenance Act.

Saving clause

“The new Act will have a ‘saving clause’ under which all the previous Acts under which Metro Rail construction was taken up, will be saved. We are looking into what different States have done with their own Acts,” said Hyderabad Metro Rail managing director N.V.S. Reddy, member of the officers committee framing the new Bill under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary D.S. Mishra.

His peers from Delhi, Jaipur, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Nagpur, Kolkata, and Lucknow, among others, where the Metro Rails were built or are under way, are also part of the committee.

More Metros are coming up at Varanasi, Kanpur, Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar, Visakhapatnam, and Vijayawada.

Deciding fares

The draft Bill proposes a Metro Fare Regulatory Authority to be formed to help States have a template to decide fares. Since the Commissioner of Rail Safety also doubles up as the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety for safety clearances, administrative restructuring and strengthening the office was also being looked at.

The Bill still has to be vetted by different ministries like Municipal Administration, Finance, Personnel, Railways, Law, Niti Aayog, etc., before it is presented to Parliament, therefore it may be more than a year away, said Mr. Reddy.

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