Millennium Post

Delhi Awaits Reliance-run Airport metro

Delhi Awaits Reliance-run Airport metro
With another deadline missing and authorities are tight lipped over the date for resumption of services of Delhi’s Airport Metro Express, the commuters are asking how long they have to wait, raising many questions.

Just before Diwali, managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Mangu Singh announced that repair work on the Airport Metro Express line is almost over and that the line is expected to be operational before Diwali.

Two weeks after, there still is no sign of airport service. The concessionnaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) has already expressed its inability in operating the high speed corridor citing ‘financial nonviability’.

Reliance Infrastructure-owned DAMEPL is alleging that the airport line, completed under the supervision of Singh, is faulty.

Singh in turn has accused Reliance of using the bearings issue as an excuse to bail out from the Airport Metro Express project in a letter to Urban Development Ministry dated 11 July 2012.

Interestingly, Singh had supervised the construction of the Airport Express Line during his stint as director (Works) in Delhi Metro till December last year.

Operation on the 23-km high-speed corridor were suspended on 8 July after Reliance Infrastructure Limited detected cracks on the structure built by the Delhi Metro as part of the public-private partnership (PPP) agreement.

With each passing day, the wedge between the ‘partners’, the DMRC and the concessionaire DAMEPL, is widening and with the failure of negotiations between the two parties, they have now opted for arbitration to settle the vexatious issue once and for all.

According to the Concession Agreement (clause 36.2.3), Delhi Metro has written to the DAMEPL that a panel of five arbitrators will be appointed.

According to sources, if arbitrators decision goes against Metro, then Singh will have to resign. However, sources in the Metro said Mangu Singh or Delhi Metro will never accept it.

The big question though, if there was any fault in the line, why railway safety and security greenlighted the operation.

When Millennium Post contacted spokesperson Reliance Infrastructure, all he could tell us was DAMEPL would be sending a termination notice to DMRC. He did not want to comment further as ‘the matter is in arbitration’.

When asked when the Airport Metro Line service would resume, spokesperson said it would be better to speak to a DMRC official regarding that.

Similarly, when contacted DMRC spokesperson Tomojit Bhatacharya, he also refused to comment on the issue saying ‘the matter is in arbitration’.

According to sources, Reliance Infrastructure is incurring losses to over Rs 50 crore a month and is seeking financial package to run this in future. Meanwhile, top sources in the ministry said that Union urban development minister Kamal Nath is also in favour of financial restructuring of concessionaire agreement in favour of Reliance.
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