Tuesday, July 26, 2022

All metro projects in the country are in loss, passengers are also less; Concerns in Parliamentary Committee Report

Mumbai : Although the central government and various state governments have emphasized on weaving a metro network in big cities as an alternative to the public transport system in the country, all the metro projects started in the last six-seven years are in financial loss. While preparing the project report, a huge gap has been found between the expected number of passengers and the actual number of passengers.

The Standing Committee of the Parliament reviewed the metro projects in all the cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and submitted the report to the Parliament. In this report, concerns were expressed about the metro project being in loss. Metro was launched in 2006 in the capital city of Delhi and has covered a network of about 400 km so far. Despite the increase in the number of metro passengers since 2011, the metro project in Delhi has been operationally profitable, but the project has been in financial loss since its inception. In 2014, the first metro line Ghatkopar-Andheri-Versova was launched in Mumbai. Despite the increase in the number of passengers, this project, which is being run on behalf of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Company, is in financial loss. Due to this, there was pressure on the state government to transfer this project to the Mumbai Metropolitan Area Development Authority. ‘Namma Bangalore’ Metro has been in losses ever since its inception in 2017. Metro, which was started five years ago in the city of Kochi in Kerala, is also running at a loss. While three and a half lakh passengers are expected daily, only 60,000 to 65,000 passengers use this service. The sob story of the metro project in the cities of Chennai or Hyderabad is no different. The work of the metro project in Lucknow city was completed 36 days ahead of schedule. However, the project is running at a loss due to lack of expected passenger numbers. Kolkata Metro’s picture is not very different.

When the parliamentary committee inquired about the losses from all the metro officials, all of them claimed that the main reason was the corona virus and layoffs. But, most of the projects were started from 2016-17. Then the committee had asked how to make a loss for two to two and a half years. A detailed project report is prepared before starting a metro project. It reviews all the financial calculations, number of passengers, loan repayment etc. But the parliamentary committee has blamed the planning of the government agencies while preparing the detailed project report.

With the exception of metro projects in Delhi and Mumbai, the number of passengers in other cities has not increased as expected. Only 50 percent of the expected passengers avail the service in Bengaluru Metro project. The response of passengers in the cities of Hyderabad and Chennai is low. Only 5 lakh passengers travel in Kolkata when 1.5 lakh passengers are expected daily. According to senior officials of the Central Urban Development Department, the number of people using the metro has not increased as expected, although the business has become smooth after the corona virus.

Currently there are three different laws for metro projects. Rather than this, the committee recommended that there should be a single law for metro projects. The Secretary of Urban Development Department informed that a law will be enacted on behalf of the Centre.

Emphasis on solutions

The committee has expressed the need to emphasize efforts to increase the number of metro passengers in all cities except for the metro projects in the two cities of Delhi and Mumbai, where the number of passengers in other cities is low. To reach the metro station, providing proper communication facilities to the citizens, having space around the stations to park private vehicles are some of the necessary measures. If that happens, citizens will use metro, said the committee.

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