Fairwood, the company that is introducing the pod car in India in a tie-up with the UK-based Ultra, plans to set up a manufacturing factory in the National Capital Region in Noida, Greater Noida or Gurgaon over the next four five months.

The firm plans to make the manufacturing unit a base for export to other countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines and Vietnam, where it is attempting to bag projects.

It is also in talks with State Governments of Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and Haryana to implement the project. Pod car is a personal rapid transit (PRT) solution. India’s first project in Amritsar will connect the Golden Temple. The car can accommodate four to six people and moves on a pre-defined track and costs much less than other urban mass transit options such as the Metro and monorail. For the Amritsar project, people have to pay fares, which would be around the same level as auto-rickshaws. In Kerala, the State Government has offered to set up a joint venture with Inkel, said Mr Vikas Chopra, Vice-President – Corporate and Business Development, Fairwood.

Haryana proposal

Fairwood is also in discussion with the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for a pod project in Gurgaon.

The company has submitted a proposal, but HUDA is yet to take a decision, Mr Chopra said. “The exact method of bidding has not yet been decided by HUDA. It will not be a Swiss Challenge method of bidding. It may be on the same lines as the Rapid Metrorail Gurgaon Ltd”.

The Amritsar project, which was awarded to Ultra-Fairwood, is country’s first metro-rail project awarded on a Swiss Challenge contract method. But the company has not yet signed the concession agreement. Rapid Metrorail is country’s first fully private metro project, with a concession period of 99 years.

Originally promoted by IL&FS-Enso and DLF, it is now an IL&FS project following DLF’s decision to exit. For this Metro line, HUDA had invited bids twice, and on both occasions IL&FS-Enso was the single bidder.

The Swiss Challenge method is not encouraged in the Government set-up. The Finance Ministry has concerns there is no best price discovery in this method. But in urban mass rapid transportation projects, there are many technologies with just one or two vendors.

mamuni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 10, 2012)
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