Metro rail won't be an immediate reality: Sarma

A viable proposition, a metro rail from Dharapur-rengi, has been taken up; survey for another metro rail line has been ordered, says GDD Minister

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, May 8: Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma does not find any rhyme or reason as to why the previous Congress Government in the State was in a tearing hurry to lay the foundation stone of the Metro Rail Project in Guwahati before the 2016 Assembly election in the State. The metro rail project, in all likelihood, is far from being an immediate reality.

In his third term in a row former State Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi did paint a rosy picture of Guwahati – by laying the foundation stone of an ambitious metro rail project in the city. With as many as four metro rail corridors in sight, the proposed metro rail was supposed to cover the entire city like a spider net. However, down to earth reality is such that the project is far from being a reality in the immediate future.

AGP MLA Ramendra rayan Kalita raised the issue of metro rail on the floor of the Assembly that was in session today. The AGP MLA said that the metro rail is a must to ease traffic congestion in the city. He wanted to know if the DPR for the proposed metro rail prepared by the Tarun Gogoi-led government has been rejected or not.

In his reply to query, GDD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “Not a single scheme of the proposed metro rail project has been sanctioned or approved by the Centre even as the previous government laid its foundation stone. Even the DPR wasn’t sent to the Centre by the previous government. The previous government did prepare the DPR by engaging RITES Ltd, paid Rs 2.5 crore to the company and left a liability of Rs 4 crore. We had to clear that amount.”

With the entire project looking like building castles in the air, Sarma gave the House a detailed account on the funding plan of the project. “The project cost was estimated to be Rs 20,000 crore, including a state share of Rs 4,000 crore. The former government was silent as to how the estimated cost of the project would come. The then State government didn’t even specify as to how the State would make its own share available for the project. The former government didn’t even feel like sending the DPR to the Centre, let alone getting the schemes of the project sanctioned or approved by the Centre. When I made a thorough study to know as to why the previous government was in a tearing hurry to lay the foundation stone of the metro project, I found no note specifying what I was looking for,” Sarma said.

Sarma further said: “After the BJP-led coalition government coming to power in the State we had a Cabinet discussion on the proposed metro rail project. We’ve also initiated talks with the Centre on the project. We’ve taken a decision to make a metro rail line into reality from Dharapur-rengi. The estimated cost of this project is Rs 5,000 crore, including a state share of Rs 1,000 crore. This is indeed a viable proposition.  However, this can’t also be an immediate reality as the approval from the Centre alone may take three to four years. We’ve also ordered the survey of another metro railway line from the proposed AIIMS site at Changsari-Jalukbari.”

“There are rules for metro rails and going for studies on traffic magement in a city is a must. A separate corporation for any metro rail project in a city is mandatory,” Sarma said the Centre as telling the State. “The previous Congress Government didn’t go for any such studies. We’ve already formed a metro rail corporation for which Rs 5 crore was allocated in this year’s Budget,” he said, and added that the DPR of the proposed Guwahati-North Guwahati bridge has been approved.

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