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Gujarat Metro snub to Delhi

New Delhi, Oct. 10: Narendra Modi’s Gujarat has announced the route of a Metro link without keeping the Centre in the loop, ignoring rules that make it mandatory for states to seek the Union government’s permission as railways is a central subject.

The September 29 announcement on the 76km Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar route came days after the Union urban development ministry headed by Kamal Nath issued a circular asking all states to follow “due process” regarding Metro Railway projects.

The project, in the pipeline since 2005, was first proposed by the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board and got in-principle approval from the Centre in 2006. But the Centre had wanted some changes in the project report and had asked the Gujarat government to review it.

The state government, however, went ahead with the announcement for starting work on the ground, without sending a modified Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Centre.

The total budget for the project is Rs 15,000 crore and the Metro link is scheduled to become operational in 2015. BJP-ruled Gujarat, where Assembly elections have been announced in December, has not sought any assistance from the Congress-led Centre so far.

In the September 25 circular, the urban development ministry had asked all state governments to seek permission before starting work on Metro projects, reminding them that since “railway” was a central subject, such projects came under the ambit of the Union government.

“While it is expected that the state government concerned or urban local body would take the lead in development of a DPR for Metro rail/monorail (projects) as per the guidelines…, the prior approval of (the) central government is essential before initiating any Metro rail project in (the) state,” circular said.

The circular also said that only because Metro projects were intertwined with urban transport, which is a state subject, the Centre did not initiate proposals.

Urban development secretary Sudhir Krishna said the Union government was not taking an aggressive stand on the issue but merely asking state governments to “seek concurrence”.

“Our move is primarily for better budgeting. They cannot tell us at the last moment about their project and seek financial assistance,” Krishna told The Telegraph.

The Centre bears up to 20 per cent of the cost of a Metro project. State governments fund another 20 per cent. The remaining 60 per cent of the cost is met through loans, advertisements and commercial lease of space on Metro station premises.

The Centre also bears 50 per cent of the cost of preparing project reports for Metro links in cities that have a population of more than two million.