Who deserves credit for Hyderabad Metro?

Hyderabad, Nov 26: The first phase of Hyderabad Metro Rail is all set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday even as both the ruling and opposition parties are claiming credit for it.

The city will achieve the distinction of becoming the first metro in the country to begin commercial operations with the longest stretch – 30 from Ongole to Miyapur via Ameerpet.

Modi along with Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will also travel in metro from Miyapur to Kukatpally and back.

The commercial operations will commence from the next day with minimum fare of Rs.10 (upto 2 km) and the maximum Rs.60 (over 26 km).

The world-class elevated metro will fulfill a long-cherished dream of people of Hyderabad and is expected to further boost the brand Hyderabad.

Construction major Larsen & Turbo had started work on the project in 2012, two years after it signed a concession agreement with the then government of united Andhra Pradesh.

As per the agreement the agreement the 72-km elevated metro project was taken up at a cost of Rs.14,132 crore and it should have been completed by July this year. However, it could not be completed due to various reasons and the developer was granted 17 month extension.

The entire project, barring 5-km stretch in the Old City and about 1 km stretch between Hitec city and Raidurg,  is now likely to completed by the end of next year.

Said to be the biggest metro project in the world under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, it had both time and cost overrun. The cost overrun is estimated to be between Rs.3,000 to Rs.4,000 crore but neither the government nor L&T are ready to make this public.

Urban development minister K. T. Rama Rao said the discussions were on over the issue and they would disclose it before public if it is required.

While ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is claiming credit for completion of the project, main opposition Congress party has alleged that it is because of TRS government that the project was delayed and faced cost overrun.

It may be recalled that in united Andhra Pradesh, TRS had levelled serious allegations that kickbacks were paid for the project. Its leaders had even threatened to cancel the project if Telangana is created and they come to power.

Telangana movement dealt a severe blow to the progress of the work. Frequent protests and the uncertainty affected the pace of the work.

L&T had designed the project and signed a concession agreement based on the business expected in terms of both ridership and real estate development at metro stations. The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh posed a big question mark on the future of the project.

After the creation of Telangana and TRS coming to power, the developer was pulled up for reportedly opposing bifurcation. The relations further strained when Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao insisted that alignment be changed at Assembly, Sultan Bazar and in the Old City. This dealt another blow to the project and hampered its progress.

New studies began on feasibility and after the delay of several months, the proposals to change the alignment at Assembly and Sultan Bazar were dropped.

In the Old City, TRS succumbed to pressure from its ally Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) not to build the project through densely populated areas.

L&T officials publicly admitted that the delay led to cost overrun. The government took exception to their going to media with the figures and warned them against doing so. Since then, the developer was keeping mum on the issue.

State Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy claims that it was during Congress rule that the project was designed and work was launched. “Neither KCR nor Narendra Modi has any role in completion of this project,” he said.

The Congress leader alleged that the delay in the project due to re-alignment proposed by KCR caused a burden of Rs.3,500 crore on public exchequer. He said after TRS took over not a single new railway line was laid nor a new station was built. He said  the work was done on the plan prepared by Congress government.

Uttam Kumar Reddy said the people of Old City were deprived of the Metro under a conspiracy. He recalled how the Congress had prepared the plan to lay the Metro line from Imlibun to Fakalnuma

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