The Delhi airport metro express line — operated by Reliance Infrastructure — is unlikely to restart operations before September. But the Ministry of Urban Development has promised to make its best efforts to start the service by August end, though unwilling to commit to a date. The Ministry is tight lipped on the estimated cost of repair work.

REPAIR WORK TO START

To fix responsibility for sharing the cost of repair, the Ministry has formed another Committee. The Urban Development Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, did not come to the press conference here on Monday, leaving it to the Secretary to face the media.

The affected construction area requires specific rehabilitation work, a joint inspection team (JIT) formed to study the technical fault said in the report it submitted today. After these faults are rectified, there will be another set of trial runs on the line to get the green signal from the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety.

The JIT committee had representatives from the Railway Ministry, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the firm which designed the structure (Systra), and Reliance Infra. “The JIT studied 540 out of about 2000 bearings. They found some shortcomings. They require specific rehabilitation measures. The design firm – Systra – will undertake the rehabilitation work,” Dr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, said.

COST

Dr Krishna did not reveal any details on the expected cost of repair work. “That we will get to know only after the work is done,” he said. However, Dr Mangu Singh, Managing Director, DMRC, said that the cost of bearings affected is Rs 87 lakh. The repair work cost will be higher. The Urban Development Ministry has formed another two-member committee, comprising Additional Member (Works) - Railways and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, to fix responsibility for this damage. A blame game is on between Reliance Infra and DMRC on owning up responsibility for damage to the tracks. Reliance Infra’s CEO, Mr Sumit Mukherjee, insists that the nature of damage is such that it had to be right from the construction phase. Mr Mukherjee declined to comment on what was the daily revenue from the metro line, though he said the company will claim damages. “That DMRC is doing the repair work means they are admitting,” he insisted.

PPP in METROS

Both the Urban Development Ministry and Reliance Infra said that Reliance Infra had no plans to desert the project. “We are all for PPP. We will try and ensure that the financial viability is maintained,” Dr Krishna said when asked about the future of PPP projects in metro rail.

(This article was published on July 16, 2012)
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