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It’s Destination Unreachable for Monorail Projects

Published: 26th August 2014 06:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2014 06:37 AM   |  A+A-

KOZHIKODE: The much-hyped monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram are facing a premature death, it appears.

For, the chances of getting a new company to implement the project at an affordable rate are bleak.

If indications from senior functionaries with the government and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) are to be believed, the board meeting of Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd (KMCL) to be held on Thursday might take a decision to re-tender the project. But, the question is whether there will be more takers for the proposal or not.

“Even if the KMCL takes a decision to float fresh tenders for a third time, it is unlikely that a number of companies would compete to win the work by submitting bids quoting rates that are in line with the estimate prepared by the DMRC,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

Contrary to the expectations of the government as well as the DMRC, the single bidder - a consortium led by Bombardier Transportation (Holdings) USA - quoted an exorbitant rate of `10,392 crore, nearly double the total estimate of `5,581 crore prepared by the DMRC, the general consultant of the project.

Consequently, the financial bid of the second  tender was discharged. On both the previous occasions, only the US-based consortium had submitted bids. Although there were rumours that the Japan-based Hitachi would take part in the tendering process when the bids were called last time, it did not turn up.

Though it has not made any formal recommendation, sources said that the DMRC is in favour of considering alternative options like light rail as monorail is not a proven success among various urban transport systems in the world.

The fact that the recently launched Mumbai Monorail facility, the first-of-its-kind in the country ‘is running like a toy train’, has also prompted DMRC to look for other options.

It is learnt that E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to DMRC, has already talked to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the matter and suggested a few options, including negotiating with the consortium over the rates, re-tendering and considering alternative options among other things.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from E Sreedharan turned futile. As such, KMCL board meeting has a major decision to make regarding the future of the project.

“One way is to look for alternative mode of transport like light rail. It can also take a decision to put the Kozhikode Monorail construction on hold and take a decision on Thiruvananthapuram as the latter remains a more preferable choice for the implementation of any new projects of this kind. Any decision need to be taken after serious deliberations as it involves huge capital investment and future at stake,” said a DMRC source, preferring anonymity.

However, KMCL managing director P I Sheik Pareeth said at present the board has only one agenda of re-tendering and a final decision on the matter would be taken only at the board meeting.

“The consortium has quoted exorbitant rates and as such board meeting will take a final decision. At present, the meeting has only one agenda - ie; to re-tender the project. But at the same time we could not rule out the board considering options other than inviting fresh tenders,” he said.

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