Govt approves new metro policy
The Metro has turned out to be one of the most efficient and effective public transport. In many cities where it is operational, the service has become quite popular attracting high ridership. Now, in a major expansion drive, the Central Government has approved a new metro rail policy. The policy, which was given a go ahead by the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi, is aimed at expanding as well as regulating the metro services in many Indian cities. The document, which is 14 pages long, is the first such prepared by the government since the Delhi Metro’s launch in 2002. The document, which comprises many key points, not only only emphasises on financial returns but also on benefits for the environment and on safety fronts.
Key points of the policy
Among the key points, the most important is the one concerning the funding of the metros. The new policy has made private participation mandatory for availing central assistance. This policy is a big boost for private players as it has successfully opened a new window for private investments. The private participation has been made compulsory across all the options. One of these is a 50:50 equity sharing model between the state and the central government. Another one envisages a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model with central aid under the Finance Ministry’s Viability Gap Funding. The third option will provide a central grant whereby 10 percent of the cost of the project would be given in a single payment.
The nation is witnessing a massive demand for high capacity and capital-intensive metro projects and in an effort to meet this, the private participation can be both for metro rail’s complete provision or for some unbundled components which include operation, automatic fare collection, or maintenance.
At many metro stations there is an absence of last mile connectivity. Thus the policy states that every metro rail proposal must have proposals for feeder systems, non-motorized transport infrastructure and para transport facilities that would enable to enlarge the catchment area of metro stations to around 5 km.
The policy also empowers states to charge a betterment levy. This will be charged in areas that willbenefit with the start of the metro projects. But, the policy clearly states that the metro project should be viable and will only be proposed if it is much more cost effective as compared to the other modes of public transport.
Upcoming new metro projects
The success of Delhi Metro has encouraged other states to establish metro in its prominent cities. The metro is time saving and convenient. Currently, Delhi Metro is operation in eight cities. These are Delhi Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Jaipur, and Gurugram. Meanwhile, Metro projects are in progress in 13 cities. This also includes the eight cities where it is already operational. The new cities where the work is in progress include Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Pune and Lucknow. Metro projects are at the various stages of planning and appraisal in 13 cities, including ten new ones. These includes, Delhi Metro Phase IV, Delhi & NCR, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Bhopal, Indore, Kochi Metro Phase II, Greater Chandigarh Region Metro Project, Patna, Guwahati, Varanasi, Thiruvananthapuram & Kozhikode (Light Rail Transport) and Chennai Phase II.