KOCHI: Nearly four years after submitting the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the Light Metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has withdrawn from the projects after it found “no initiative or interest” from the state government.
DMRC principal adviser E Sreedharan said on Thursday that two offices set up by the DMRC in the two districts were being closed down as they had been incurring a monthly expenditure of Rs 16 lakh. Noting that the DMRC was a government company, he said without work, the offices could not be kept functioning. The officers on deputation had been sent back and the offices would be completely closed down by March 15, he said.
Sreedharan said the DMRC would not take up the Light Metro projects in the state even if invited later. “The DMRC is taking up projects in the state as I am here. I am gradually getting relieved of official positions as I am 86 years old. I have refused the offer to be the adviser of the Government of Maharashtra and resigned from the post of adviser of Government of Andhra Pradesh. Adviser to the governments of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh are the two positions I hold at present,’’ he said.
CM unmoved by the exit
T’Puram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in the Assembly on Thursday the government had not backtracked from the Light Metro projects even as he said the DMRC pulled out since its contract had expired.
What prompted the DMRC to withdraw from the Light Metro projects was a discussion at the board meeting of the Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Limited (KRTL) that tender must be invited and the preparatory works should be assigned to another company. KRTL is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) constituted for the implementation and subsequent operation and maintenance of Light Metro systems.
‘’Information about this discussion prompted us to think why should the DMRC continue operations for the projects if the government is not in need of our service,” he said.
‘’The government may go for a global tender. But there has to be a consultant even to invite a global tender,’’ the Metroman said. Despite several meetings with the Chief Minister, Public Works Minister and secretaries, there had been no initiative on the part of the government to sign the contract, Sreedharan said.
DPRs for the Light Metro projects were submitted to the government in October 2014. DMRC had commenced preparatory work after the government issued an order announcing its decision to entrust consultancy of the project to DMRC. A draft of the agreement on consultancy to be signed was forwarded to the government in December 2016.
When the Union Ministry of Urban Development issued a new Metro Policy, DMRC modified the earlier DPRS to comply with the new policy and submitted it to the government of Kerala in November 2017. But it had not yet been approved and forwarded to the Centre. ‘’We have no malice towards the government. We are only trying to safeguard our financial interest. We cannot run offices without adequate work,” he said. Sreedharan also said DMRC would not claim any compensation from the government.
On January 21, DMRC gave its final notice to the government, seeking permission to withdraw from the project as the contract had not been signed.
Sreedharan said he wanted to meet the Chief Minister to apprise him of the company’s decision, but the appointment was not granted. ‘’I was not refused the appointment, but I am still waiting. The Chief Minister himself wrote to me saying he would meet me, but the time was not fixed,’’ he said.He refused to react to Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran’s comment that Sreedharan was attempting to intervene in government policy.
Thalassery Mysore line
“The state government wanted the DMRC to implement the Thalassery-Mysore railway line. As requested we prepared a viability report with a finding that the project was unviable. We were not able to give a positive report as the proposed line would benefit only one third of the population of Kerala. Since then the government’s approach to DMRC changed, as if it had lost trust in us. This could be also a reason for the government not wanting DMRC to associate with the Light Metro projects,” he said.