Fast tracks to beat traffic

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By PIYUSH KUMAR TRIPATHI
  • Published 12.08.11
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Patna, Aug. 11: Residents of the capital may soon be able to avoid traffic snarls when they step out on the streets. The state government is planning to start a mass rapid transport system (MRTS) for the city.

Like Calcutta and Delhi, Patna, too, may soon have a metro railway. The state government has started talks with the Planning Commission about the feasibility of a metro network for the city.

Delhi metro began operations in 2002. It operates around 2,700 trains on a number of different routes each day and serves the National Capital Region of India. The metro rail network in Calcutta — the oldest in the country — began operations in 1984, and operates on a north-south axis.

As far as the city is concerned, the authorities have kept their options open for a monorail network as well. Four corridors have been identified for the network. (See graphics)

For this project, Shashi Shekhar Sharma, the principal secretary of the state urban development department, is slated to meet Ravi Mittal, adviser (infrastructure), Planning Commission, tomorrow. The urban development department is the nodal agency for Patna Integrated Mass Rapid Transport System (PIMRTS). Sources said a decision about the progress of the metro rail could be taken at this meeting.

Sharma, the nodal officer for PIMRTS, said the state government was looking at a basket of options for the proposed mass rapid transport system in the city. These include metro rail, monorail and bus rapid transport.

In March 2009, RITES Ltd (a Government of India enterprise) was appointed by Indian Railways as technical consultant to examine the feasibility of monorail in the city. The proposed monorail could also act as a feeder to Patna Junction.

“Till date, RITES has submitted two reports to the Railway Board on the feasibility of four monorail corridors proposed for the city. In June last year, representatives of RITES and officers of Indian Railways made a presentation on proposed monorail routes in front of the chief secretary of the state, Anup Mukerji. According to the contract between RITES and Indian Railways, the next phase of the project can be undertaken only after approval from the state government,” said a senior officer of Indian Railways, associated with the project.

The officer added: “RITES was supposed to complete the feasibility study in 15 months. That deadline has passed. Railway had given the state government six or seven reminders in the past 16 months to provide the necessary approval. They have not responded yet. Recently, the railway wrote a letter to the state government in which it said that since no response had been received from them, and since the contract period of RITES was still open, they would presume that the state government had no objection and carry on further survey for the monorail project. The railway has decided to carry out surveys on the proposed routes.”

The Union railway ministry is funding the work done by RITES. The officer also said monorail was more suitable for the city than metro. For monorail, the per-km cost is between Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore.

Recently, the state urban development department and the Planning Commission had expedited the steps for the proposed metro rails.

Sources said, Mittal, during a meeting on July 21 this year with the chief secretary, said the Hyderabad and Mumbai metro rail projects were being conducted on the basis of the Planning Commission model. The commission would extend every possible technical support to the Bihar government as well, if it were willing to work on a metro project. Mittal also said if the state government was willing to work on other modes of mass transportation, it was free to do so. The Planning Commission has no model for other modes. Mittal also told the state government that if it wants to go ahead with the metro rail project, it should take decisions about the type of line it wants and the routes. Also, additional land of 15 to 20 hectares would be needed for a yard for metro rail.

The source said after a detailed discussion, it was decided that an expression of interest for conducting feasibility study of PIMRTS should be issued by August 15.