HYDERABAD: It took five long years for the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) to open a 30-kilometre-long corridor, albeit without addressing the last mile connectivity issues.
Interestingly, the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) had, just 10 days before the Metro Rail launch, conducted a survey to re-strategise by aligning its operations with the Metro Rail operations. The answer to bridge the gaps in the last mile connectivity for Hyderabad citizens was to be answered by the Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA), but the body has for a decade done too little to justify its own existence.
UMTA is an urban transportation planning agency that was supposed to be the nodal agency ensuring coordination between various transport and local bodies in the city, thus streamlining them. However, since its inception, various initiatives spearheaded by the body have remained non-starters. The seamless integration of Hyderabad Metro Rail with other transport systems in the city being just one of them.
The body came into existence in Hyderabad through a government order on September 8, 2008, a first in India. UMTA’s authority in Hyderabad over transport and local bodies is binding as per law. The authority brought together GHMC, HMDA, traffic police, city police, the railways, TSRTC, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) and others to the same table for the first time.
However, since its inception UMTA members met a total of just 11 times in a period of 10 years. Meetings were held with a gap of few months between the period 2008 and 2009 but soon the frequency dropped with meetings being held annually until 2013 which then became bi-annual. The last meeting was held in February 2017 with the UMTA chairman, also the chief secretary to the state government, calling for structured and regular meetings between its members.
Various initiatives were taken up at the first UMTA meeting in 2008, be it the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) or a Common Ticketing System between Multi Modal Transport System and TSRTC, concieved a decade ago, have all remain non-starters even today. Projects stalled after local bodies, such as the GHMC and HMDA could not shell out funds. This, despite UMTA laying down the cost-sharing mechanism and even urging the local bodies to seek funds from the centre.
In 2008, an escrow account was set up in the HMDA in which 0.25 per cent of the estimated cost of all projects of traffic and transportation undertaken by various departments was to be deposited. Furthermore, 0.25 per cent of development charges collected by the HMDA, GHMC and other local urban bodies were also added to the account. But the funds were never deposited on time and in some cases never deposited at all.
“We may have the intention of getting the project funded but fund crunch faced by individual local body comes into play and the project gets dropped,” said a senior official with a local body who has attended various UMTA meetings. The HMRL joined the UMTA table for the sixth meeting in 2011. For the seventh meeting in 2011 and the eight meeting in 2012, the main and only topic discussed by HMRL was traffic management. In the ninth meet, a coordination committee was set up between HMRL and MMTS, but that too failed to make a visible impact. Only a proposal for the metro extension to the airport was sought from HMRL in the 11th and last UMTA meet. If the UMTA minutes of meetings are taken into consideration, no discussion on the integration of transport services ever took place at these meetings.
KTR asks HMRL to increase metro frequency
Hyderabad: Following the huge response to the metro from the people, MA&UD minister KT Rama Rao has asked HMRL officials to look into the feasibility of increasing the number of metro trains. However, he was told that it could be considered only by the end of February depending on number of passengers. The minister held a review meeting with HMRL officials at the CM’s camp office in Begumpet on Tuesday and discussed provision of adequate water, toilets and parking facilities at stations as well as introduction of metro feeder bus services. He wanted parking facilities provided at designated places as soon as possible. He asked the officials to see that Corridor-3 from Nagole to Shilparamam, was completed by June.
JAC strengthens demands for Metro Rail in Old City
Following the formation of a Joint Action Committee to assert demand for Metro Rail in Old City, leaders from political parties like CPI, Congress held another meet in the city on Tuesday to strengthen the demand. The JAC was formed on Nov 27. Kaher Tamal Khundmeri of TRS said, “All the prominent political parties in Telangana have come together to demand for Metro Rail in Old city. Only AIMIM has not joined hand with us.” The Old City residents have been pointing out that Metro would be a solution to the traffic menace faced by them on a daily basis.