Delhi Metro contests Reliance Infra claim

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 26 2013, 22:13pm hrs
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has contested Reliance Infra's claim of R2,800 crore as termination payment for the Airport Express line. In a letter written to the urban development (UD) ministry earlier this month, DMRC has said the total debt of Reliance Infra-promoted Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) is not more than R2,100 crore and since DAMEPL pulled out of the project, as per the contract, their total claim should be R1,680 crore (80% of the debt) and not R2,800 crore as claimed by Reliance Infra.

DAMEPL had claimed a termination payment of about R2,800 crore from DMRC, saying it needs to be paid payment equivalent to 130% of equity and the entire remaining debt. Meanwhile, the arbitration panel which is supposed to sort out the dispute between DMRC and DAMEPL has not yet started its hearing.

A consortium of 11 banks, led by Axis Bank, has an exposure of almost R2,000 crore to the project.

In its letter to the (UD) ministry, DMRC has also said that if the government wants it to continue operating the 22.7-km line, then the debt has to be jointly borne by the central and the state government (the promoters of DMRC).

DMRC has said that if the government wants the operations on the line to remain with them, then the state government and central government should service the debt and pay R840 crore each, the government official added.

The UD ministry will soon place the issue before the empowered group of ministers (EGOM), who will take the final call on whether to look for a new operator and who'll service the debt.

Meanwhile, DMRC, which took over the operation of Airport Express line on July 1 is expected to downsize the current workforce of around 400 employees of the express line. The 22.7-km express line was built at a cost of R5,700 crore, including R2,800 crore invested by Reliance Infra promoted DAMEPL, which is a special purpose vehicle between Reliance Infrastructure (95%) and CAF, Spain, (5%). DMRC had built the civil structure on the line and the ADAG company took care of operations and maintenance under a 30-year agreement.

The services on the line were suspended from July 7, 2012, to January 22, 2013, due to technical problems and after reopening, the speed was reduced and the ticket prices were hiked, which led to a decrease in passengers.