Metro clears 20-lakh hurdle

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  • Published 18.11.11

New Delhi/Patna, Nov. 17: Patna has narrowly made it to the list of cities that are eligible for a metro railway network.

Urban development minister Kamal Nath said all cities that have a population in excess of 20 lakh would get a metro corridor. According to the latest census findings, Patna has a population of a little over 20.4 lakh.

“To meet the challenges of urban transport, we are looking for a sustainable, economical and comfortable transport system. With this background, the metro rail system is being given highest priority. In the future we will be looking at a metro transport system for towns with population of over 20 lakh,” Nath said at a news conference in New Delhi.

“The latest census reveals that Patna has just managed to enter this bracket (of 20 lakh population). So, I guess in time metro will come there too,” he added.

The Bihar government has set the ball rolling for preparing a techno-economic feasibility report of the metro rail corridor in Patna. The state urban development department has sent a proposal to chief minister Nitish Kumar for approval.

“The metro corridor project for Patna is under consideration of the state government. The urban development department has already sent a preliminary project report for the proposed corridor to the chief minister for his in-principle approval," said state urban development minister Prem Kumar.

Bihar principal secretary, urban development, Shashi Shekhar Sharma, had earlier told The Telegraph that the feasibility study would include assessment of existing and projected demography, land and power availability, transportation practices, economic and social feasibility, prospective routes in Patna, generation of funds and roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders.

The metro rail project is being considered as one of the options under the proposed Patna Integrated Mass Rapid Transport System.

Regarding the generation of funds for the metro rail option, Sharma, who is also the nodal officer for the project, had said that since it was being executed in the public-private-partnership mode, the money would primarily come from private investors, subject to the viability gap funds (deficient funds under the scheme), which would be generated by both the Centre and the state.

According to sources, the metro corridor is expected to cover a total distance of 40-45km in Patna in the first phase at an estimated cost of Rs 8,000 crore.

The sources said the two most feasible routes at present are Danapur to Patna City via the banks of the Ganga, and Saguna More to Frazer Road via Bailey Road. These two routes have almost a straight alignment and it would require least structural re-orientation during infrastructure development.

The new age metro is already operational in Delhi and Bangalore. Calcutta, which was the first city in India to have a metro network, is in expansion mode and construction is on in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. In the next 15 days, the Union urban development ministry will get cabinet approval for construction of a 25-km-long metro network in Kochi.

Other smaller cities are also joining the club soon. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the nerve-centre of metro rail across India, has already prepared detailed project reports for networks at Ludhiana, Pune, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.

The corporation is in the process of drafting detailed project reports for Indore, Bhopal and Chandigarh. “I have also spoken to the Maharashtra chief minister to get a report prepared for metro in Nagpur soon,” minister Nath said.

Nath said a National Urban Rail Transit Authority would be set up to advise the government on various metro rail-related issues.