The fate of Varanasi and Kanpur metro rail projects hangs in balance after the Centre returned the proposals for the projects and asked the authorities to re-evaluate them in the light of the new metro rail policy.
While Varanasi is the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, Kanpur is the hometown the President.
“Yes, we have received the communication. The detailed project reports (DPRs) for Varanasi and Kanpur would now have to be reworked to make them comply with the norms laid down in the new metro rail policy, which are more stringent,” said a senior government official of the housing department, requesting anonymity.
The decision to turn down the DPR of Kanpur Metro project has come as a surprise for the officials as the foundation stone of the project was laid by then union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu on October 4, 2016 in Kanpur.
“We had submitted the DPR of Kanpur Metro on March 29 and that of Varanasi on June 9, 2016. But since there were no adverse comments or objections by the Public Investment Board (PIB), which vets all such proposals, we were expecting the centre’s nod,” said another official associated with the project.
“We will now have to undertake an analysis of other alternative modes of transport, as metro is a very capital intensive project, and submit a fresh blueprint,” said the official.
He said senior government officials and experts from all over the country would be converging in New Delhi on Saturday to attend a workshop organised on the new metro rail policy by the ministry of urban development (MoUD).
METRO PROJECTS IN PIPELINE
Metro projects have been mooted for seven cities in UP, including Kanpur and Varanasi. While Phase 1A of Lucknow Metro has already commenced operations, the DPRs of Meerut and Agra metro projects are complete. Work on DPRs of chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s home town Gorakhpur and Allahabad is underway.
NEW METRO RAIL POLICY
The new Metro Rail Policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals and proposes an independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the government like the Institute of Urban Transport and other such centres of excellence.
It makes a shift from the present “Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8 per cent to Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14%” for approving metro projects, in line with global practices and mandates transit oriented development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors.
States are required to adopt innovative mechanisms to mobilise resources for financing metro projects. The three options for availing central assistance include: public private partnership (PPP) with central assistance under the viability gap funding scheme of the ministry of finance; grant by centre under which 10% of the project cost will be given as lump sum central assistance and 50:50 equity sharing model between central and state governments. Under all these options, private participation, however, is mandatory.