Millennium Post

Taking travellers for a ride

In these times when a mountain is sought to be made, to use BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s expression, from issues which are not even as big as a molehill, complete indifference shown by the government, the opposition and even the civil society groups towards the attempt made by Anil Ambani-led Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) to take people for a ride should raise eye-brows. It was sometime in October that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh promised that the airport metro service would be resumed around Diwali, which is now long behind us. The Yuletide season is already in the air but there is still no sign of the service starting in the near future.

The operation has been stuck in a cleft stick, with the Delhi Metro claiming that the repair work of the line has been completed whereas concessionnaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) refusing to comment whether its going to operate at all. Service on the 23-km high-speed corridor was 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. Delhi Metro has on the other hand gone on record  accusing Reliance of using the issue of ‘cracks’ as an excuse to wriggle itself out from the Airport Metro Express project.

Reliance’s true intent behind not operating the service became clear when it  expressed its inability in operating the high speed corridor citing ‘financial non-viability’. This gave credence to the allegations brought against the concessionnaire by the Delhi Metro chief. Singh in a letter to Urban Development Ministry, soon after the service was stopped, had accused Reliance of using the issue as an excuse to bail itself out from the Airport Metro Express project. The matter is now with the arbitrators, who have to take a call on the matter.

The big question is, if there was any fault in the line, why railway safety and security gave a go ahead for the operation. The bigger question is will somebody come clean on the murky dealings going on in the matter with attempts to subsidise the losses incurred by the concessionnaire in running the operation. Will the government allow the private partner to renege on legal agreements.

While these questions await answers its the common commuters who are suffering from the concessionnaire’s audacity and the government’s apathy.  
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