With the SC approving the project on condition that 18,230 trees are planted as part of its execution, Agra is likely to have a Metro network in place by March 2024.
With the Supreme Court clearing the Rs 8,379-crore Agra Metro Rail project, Agra, the third largest city of Uttar Pradesh and home to the iconic Taj Mahal, is all set to go green in the real sense of the term. While on the one hand the network is expected to provide the city’s over 20-lakh population environment-friendly and hassle-free connectivity, on the other, the apex court’s directive that 18,230 saplings be planted during project execution, a whopping 10 times the number initially proposed, would end up making Agra a greener city than before. The Uttar Pradesh government has set a stiff deadline of March 2024 for its completion.
The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2019, but work was put on hold owing to the apex court’s intervention over environmental concerns. Its conditional approval for the project has taken on board the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) it had set up for the purpose. Says Kumar Keshav, the managing director of the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC), the nodal agency for the project — which is also building the Kanpur Metro — “We will leave no stone unturned in delivering a world-class Metro network for Agra in the shortest possible time, fully complying with the directives of the Supreme Court.” The UPMRC implemented the Lucknow Metro project in record time of less than 4 years and 6 months, he points out. “We had received various ‘Green Initiative’ awards for the Lucknow Metro project, and we will replicate those initiatives for the Agra project”.
The UPMRC has floated various tenders to expedite the commencement of civil construction work. In fact, the contract for the network’s rolling stock and telecom works has already been awarded, with Bombardier India emerging the winner last month.
The 30-km-long network in Agra would have two corridors. While Corridor-1 from Taj East Gate to Sikandra would span 14 km, Corridor-2 would run from Agra Cantt to Kalindi Vihar, a stretch of 15.4 km. In all, the two corridors would have 23 elevated and 8 underground stations.
The process of acquiring land for the two corridors has begun. “While 32.55 hectare of land needs to be acquired for Corridor-I, 22.03 hectare would be needed for Corridor-2. Since most of the land is owned by the government, we are not likely to encounter problems over land,” Keshav says.
As for project funding, UPMRC is in advanced talks to raise loans worth Rs 4,178 crore from the European Investment Bank, which had funded the Lucknow Metro project. This would be in addition to the 20% equity of Rs 1,459 crore that both the Union and state governments would make available for the project.