Colaba-SEEPZ Metro: Procedure change may delay project
After waiting for more than six months for the costly Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro to be appraised by the Union finance ministry's Public Investment Board (PIB) for infusion of funds, the corridor could be delayed further with the Centre recently changing the procedure to assess mass transit projects.
The change has prompted Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to once again knock at the Prime Minister's door, asking him to expedite the showpiece project through the new channel. "Chavan wrote to the PM 15 days ago to ensure the project is appraised at the earliest. We expect the project to take another three-four months to be cleared for funding," said SVR Srinivas, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA.
Earlier, the project proposal was placed directly before the PIB. Now, under the new process, it will be first vetted by an empowered committee under the Cabinet Secretary and then cleared by an empowered group of ministers.
Central clearance for the financial model of the Rs 24,500-crore Metro corridor is important not only to secure Union government funds but also to finalise a loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA had, last year, agreed to provide a loan for nearly 50 per cent of the project cost at an interest rate of 1.4 per cent payable over 30 years.
In January, Chavan had written to the PM requesting that a meeting of PIB be called soon to discuss the project. "These committees have been appraising Delhi Metro projects. Now, the government has extended this process of clearance to all mass transit projects," Srinivas said.
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