The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the New Metro Rail policy which makes the involvement of private companies in execution and running of the system for state governments seeking central financing for their proposed Metro Rail. The newly approved policy states, “private participation either for complete provisioning of metro rail or for some unbundled components will form an essential requirement for all metro rail project proposals seeking central financial assistance,” according to Indian Express. The Central government is taking this step to give a boost to privatization and reduce its role in funding metro projects.
Metro man E Sreedharan, who successfully headed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) since its inception and is currently a principal advisor to it while talking about the New Metro Rail policy, described it as “the most disastrous and retrograde urban transport policy.” During an interview with the Indian Express, Sreedharan said, “The policy seems to have been framed by someone sitting in the NITI Aayog with absolutely no experience of how metro rail is built and operated. As it is, in India, all 12 such projects put together, only 20-25 km of new metro rail is made operational every year. China is galloping way ahead at 300 km of metro rail being opened every year. We are already moving at a snail’s pace. Now with this policy, everything will come to a standstill.”
The New Metro Rail policy is broadly based on the PPP model that includes constructing new Metro Rail systems through the Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer mode, allowing private players to operate the service as well as supply rolling stock, and involving them in the maintenance and upgrade of infrastructure, according to the report.
Secretary, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, D S Mishra said, “This is part of the overall plans drawn up by the Ministry of Finance to have PPP not only in Metro but also in highways, water or sanitation sector.”