Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Hyderabad Metro Rail to be slowest in India'

'Hyderabad Metro Rail to be slowest in India'
By B V Shiva Shankar, Times of India, Dec 1, 2012. 
HYDERABAD: Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) that is coming up as a mass rapid transit system to ease the city's traffic congestion would be the slowest in the country thanks to the ill-design of the project, contended petitioners who moved the high court against Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited(HMRL). They charged HMRL with changing the originally designed alignment illegally. 
Talking about the sharp curves of the alignment at eight locations in the stretch between Ameerpet and Jubilee Hills checkpost, the Greenlands Ameerpet Madhuranagar Yousufguda Srikrishna Nagar Joint Action Committee (GAMYS-JAC), which is fighting the legal battle for the traders of the area, argued before the court on Thursday that the defective design would pose a serious threat to passenger safety. While railway safety rules prescribe a minimum 120 metre radius of curvature for alignment of a metro train, the curves designed at the marked locations, including Greenlands, Ameerpet crossroads and Sarathi Studios are less than 60 metres.

"In order to maintain an average speed, the alignment must have wide curves wherever the train bends. As per norms, the radius of curvature must be more than 120 metres. If it is less than that, the speed must be reduced to avoid the risk of the train getting derailed," said professor M N Srihari, advisor to
 Karnataka government on Bangalore Metro Rail. As per standards, the average operational speed of a metro train is 80 km/hr, but with sharp curves, the average speed of a train has to be reduced to 25 km/hr, the domain experts said. However, the very idea of mass rapid transit system would be defeated with the slower movement, they said.

"Unlike Bangalore Metro, HMRL has still time to rectify the errors as construction work had just started. The radius of curvature can still be increased. If they don't do it, CRS may deny permission or insist on reducing the speed. Going by the calculations, the average operational speed of a Hyderabad Metro train cannot be more than 25 km/hr which means it would be the slowest in the country," said Srihari.
But, it is not going to be easy for HMRL to rectify the loopholes because increasing the radius of curvature means acquisition of more land and demolition of more buildings. While L&T authorities, concessionaire of HMR project, declined to comment, a spokesperson of HMRL refused to do so because the issue is in court.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hyderabad Metro IS A Real Estate Project

This is in Telugu. Please find below the images of my interview (titled INNERVIEW) today (24 Nov) in Andhra Jyothy, Telugu Daily, in Hyderabad. The lead is given in the front page and the main interview is in the second page. The title of the interview is "Metro IS a Real Estate Project". I argued how the on-going Hyderabad metro rail (HMR) is a real estate project, how we exposed several dimensions of this project over the last 5 years or so when authorities were refusing to share any information, how the traders in different areas got organised to protest, and how we QUESTIONED this project's claims to solve public transportation problems in the city. We also talked about no progress in our petitions in the High Court but it is a moral victory for us when, in another petition, the judge passed an Order saying that HMR cannot be built under the Tramways Act when it is a full-fledged railway project, and how the authorities did not implement the law. We also expressed our disappointment with the TRS party when it did not question the state government's proceeding with metro works without responding to the several valid issues raised by that party.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Osmania University lands - No to Metro Rail

OU refuses land to metro

DC, Hyderabad, October 18, 2012 By L. Venkat Ram Reddy
The lands belonging to Osmania University will not be alienated to the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) project. HMR has sought nearly 25 acres belonging to Osmania University in Tarnaka, Koti and Secunderabad to build parking facilities and other amenities for the project. However, the stiff resistance from Osmania University staff and student organisations has forced the government to refuse land allotment for the project.
OU teachers, students and non-teaching staff had launched a “Save OU lands“ campaign in January 2011 to prevent university land being given to the metro rail project. They demanded that OU land should be used only for expansion of the university. They pointed out that giving away precious land was totally against the resolution passed by the university on December 26, 1986, as well as the report of the Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy Committee. Of the nearly 25 acres sought, two acres were in Koti Women’s College, and another two acres in PG College, Secunderabad, 1.7 acres on the NIN premises, Tarnaka, two acres in the State Archives, Tarnaka, 2.78 acres in the Tarnaka junction flyover and university road and 15 acres near Sarathi School, Habsiguda. The government has now decided to withdraw its proposal to acquire these OU lands and it will look for other alternatives.
Under the agreement signed with the concessionaire L&T, the state government has to allot 269 acres for the metro rail project. This included the 25 acres of OU. It has already identified and allotted 15 acres in Raidurg for the HMR in August and still needs another 13 acres. The government is searching for other land for developing parking facilities and circulation areas for metro rail stations.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Lie - Hyderabad metro to carry 60000 pphdt

This is one of the lies being spread by  the project promoters and their cohorts. First, there will be no load of that size (60,000 pphdt) in Hyderabad. This city doesn't have a central business district (CBD) of the scale of connaught place in Delhi. Even the Delhi metro is not carrying that much load. Delhi metro is carrying about 16 lakh/day, sometimes a maximum of 20 lakh on some days. That is, in a city of 1.3 crore people with a metro network of 162 km (including 32 km underground) on 6 corridors. To say that Hyderabad metro of 72 km will carry 15 lakh and then 25 lakh is spreading BIG lies to justify such projects. Only future will tell how this project becomes a curse for the city.-- CR
HYDERABAD, October 9, 2012
Hyderabad metro rail to carry 60,000 passengers per hour
Hyderabad Metro Rail is going to be a ‘high density’ project in terms of carrying capacity of passengers per hour. It means that when operational the elevated rail system can carry up to 60,000 Passengers Per Hour in Peak Direction (PPHPD). Initially the plan was to build a ‘medium density’ project which entails a carrying capacity of 40,000 passengers per hour per direction as per the Delhi Metro prepared detailed project report. Later, it was decided to scale up during the construction stage itself by increasing the axle load for hauling more people considering the rising traffic density across the three routes. “Little can be done once the viaduct and piers are constructed so we decided to increase the axle load when the work began,” explains Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy. While the three car trains will have a carrying capacity of 1,000 passengers per trip, six car trains later will have carrying capacity of 6,000 passengers with a frequency of five minutes a train. For more, read.. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Information DELAYED is information DENIED

When Hyderabad metro officials were denying the copies of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) even under RTI Act, I filed a petition in the AP State Information Commission (APSIC) on 22nd Feb, 2011. Now I got a letter from the APSIC to appear before it on 3rd Oct, 2012, that is, after more than one-and-half year. Meanwhile, the metro works have started etc., etc. What is the use of getting the DPRs now even if we find glaring loopholes in them? -- CR.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

L&T Hyd Metro gets 15 acres at Raidurg - scandal unfolding too fast?

Our comment: L&T Hyd metro scandal is unfolding too fast. We have been saying from the very beginning that it is a land-real estate project in the garb of metro. 15 acres of land at Raidurg in the IT hub Gachibowli area is the key for extension of the metro route by 1 km. This was not part of the Concession Agreement. Instead of at Shilparamam the Line-3 will now terminate one kilometre away. The news item says: “The terminal station at Shilparamam was aborted since the site was found to be on a lake bed.”  What a farcical reason. If so, didn't they know it before? It also says: there would be no need to acquire "any land for parking and circulating areas for the stations from institutions like Osmania University, National Institute of Nutrition, Koti Women’s College and others.” If so, then how are you going to provide parking space for commuters at these stations?
Metro rail extended till Raidurg (The Hindu, Hyd, 29 Aug 2012)
Hyderabad Metro Rail’s Line Three from Nagole to Shilparamam will now terminate one kilometre away at Raidurg with the Government issuing orders allotting 15 acres for developing parking and circulation area for the station on Tuesday.

The land was under the possession of A.P. Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) and has been handed over to the metro rail authorities for Rs.9 crore towards development charges excluding the land cost.

It will be part of the 269 acres to be provided for the project and apart from land for depots at Miyapur, Nagole and Falaknuma, 57 acres are for parking and circulation at the overhead stations.
With Raidurg land allotment, another 12 acres remain to be given. The terminal station at Shilparamam was aborted since the site was found to be on a lake bed.

The elevated train will now take a left turn near Hi-Tec City and culminate near the Mindspace-Raheja edifice at Raidurg, explained HMR Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy. The new station should come as a boon to the estimated 2 lakh-odd people working in the hub including those working in the adjacent financial district. It would also mean avoiding seeking any land for parking and circulating areas for the stations from institutions like Osmania University, National Institute of Nutrition, Koti Women’s College and others.

The extra kilometre for Line Three will escalate the Rs.14,132 crore project cost by Rs.200 crore. The third corridor will now be 28.52 km/24 stations. Line One is from Miyapur-L.B.Nagar – 28.87 km/27 stations and Line Two proposed from Jubilee Bus Station-Falaknuma is 14.78 km/16 stations and overall, the metro rail covers 72.16 km.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Metro works to be halted for biodiversity meet

As this scam-in the making continues, more startling revelations will be coming to the fore. Watch out - C.R
Larsen & Toubro told to halt metro works for biodiversity meet

B V Shiv Shankar, Times of India, Hyderabad, Aug 22, 2012.
HYDERABAD: The city's metro rail project has hit yet another roadblock. The government in its mad rush to beautify the city for COP 11 has instructed Larsen & Toubro that is executing the metro rail project, to stop work until the international biodiversity summit is over. But the instruction has caught L&T in a bind. For starters, it has come verbally and makes no mention whatsoever of compensating L&T for the loss it would incur for the days of work lost, that they estimate would be around Rs 300 crore. 

The Hyderabad Metro Rail authorities had verbally informed L&T in the first week of August to stop metro work from August 15 to October 19, when COP 11 ends. While L&T has so far not stopped work, officials said on Tuesday that pressure was mounting on them. "The government wants to get away without paying compensation by issuing such oral instructions. This is not fair as we will suffer a huge loss. If they want us to stop work, they must allow us to invoke Force Majeure clause," said a highly placed source in L&T. As per the concession agreement, L&T, the project concessionaire, can invoke Force Majeure clause claiming the compensation if the government issues "official instructions" to stop work. In the absence of a written communication, officials peg their estimated loss for this 60-day break at around Rs 300 crore, estimating that each day's delay is adding Rs 5 crore to the escalating project cost. 

Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had directed government officials to ensure that metro rail work did not come in the way of the bio-diversity convention to be held in the city from October 1 to 19.

Official denies effect of COP 11 on metro works 
The CM had sanctioned Rs 125 crore for city beautification, which includes a plan to upgrade 125-km road corridor from airport to star hotels, constructing 35 new fountains, proper sanitation and remodeling of junctions among others.

But NVS Reddy, managing director of HMRL, played down L&T's concern. He said, "It is not a big deal. If L&T wants us to issue instructions in writing, we are ready to do it. But, it has to be done on a proper forum." Denying the effect of COP 11 on metro project, Reddy said the works would be continuing in other parts of the city in the non-COP areas. "When the works would continue in other parts of the city, where is the question of invoking Force Majeure clause and paying for the loss," he questioned.

However, sources in L&T said the government has asked the company to stop the entire work as the beautification work is being carried out across the city and not just the arterial roads that delegates would be using. They further said that the amount of money the government was spending on beautification in non-COP areas would go waste as L&T would demolish all of it for metro construction work. And if NVS Reddy's claim that metro work would continue in non-COP areas is anything to go by, L&T said it would bulldoze over the beautified stretches even before the convention starts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Bengaluru Metro & Delhi's Airport Line

Though the following two problems are not directly related to Hyderabad, we are posting them because of the their relevance to the issue of metro projects in India --CR

Metro medians turn garbage dumps
Sunitha Rao R, TNN | Aug 6, 2012, 04.01AM IST
BANGALORE: Garbage contractors appear determined to ruin the city's aesthetics. Under pressure to find space to dump waste, they have begun offloading debris in medians between Namma Metro pillars. What was planned to be a colourful bed of flowers has become home for stinking heaps of garbage all along Reach 1 on the MG Road-Byappanahalli route.

Did DMRC compromise on airport metro line safety? 
Sandeep Kumar, IBN7
New Delhi: The government-run Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has filed a report that exposes how the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Reliance Infra overlooked serious technical problems in the India’s first airport metro service.
The RDSO's report accessed by IBN 7 shows how the airport metro ran on broken clips for eight months. The report says 11,000 clips found broken on the IGI airport-Shivaji Stadium track.
The RDSO says the DMRC did not reply despite reminders. For more, click the following link-

Friday, July 6, 2012

HMR's starting date - 5 July 2012

This itself is another face of a scam. Instead of announcing the date on which the works were commenced, the L&T and HMR announced that 5th July 2012 as the official starting date (Appointed Date) for the Hyderabad metro rail. That is, nearly eight months after commencing the works. After dilly-dallying for several months and more than one year after financial closure (March 2011) they have finally announced this date. The project will have to be completed within 5 years. Only time will tell and expose their hypocrisy

The official press release says: "On government's assurance, L&T started construction activity from May this year but the appointed date could not be declared as the government had to fulfill certain conditions,". L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad Ltd, the concessionaire of the project, together with HMRL, announced this official date of commencement.
As civil society activists we have been questioning the HMR and L&T regarding the delay in not announcing the Appointed Date (as per the Concession Agreement) even after starting the civil works.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

HMR cost to cross Rs. 20,000 crore

Delay drives up metro rail cost to 20K crore
BV Shiva Shankar, Times of India, Hyderabad, Jun 7, 2012,
HYDERABAD: Plagued by delays, the cost of the Hyderabad metro rail project has escalated to Rs 20,000 crore and is increasing by Rs 5 crore for each day lost. The present estimate is over three times the original outlay of Rs 6,200 crore, drawn up when the project was conceived in 2006. And, sources believe that the Rs 20,000 crore figure, too, is bound to rise sharply as there is no indication as to when the project would be taken up in right earnest. Needless to say, the burden of the increased cost will be recovered - indirectly - from the exchequer or through high fares for the passengers.

The project can properly kick off only from what is known in technical parlance as the 'Appointed Date'. This date can be declared only after the government is able to give Right of Way to contractor Larsen & Toubro. For those who came in late, Right of Way means that L&T can work unhindered on the project. However, for that to happen, the government first needs to complete the process of land acquisition for the project, which has been caught up in legal hurdles.

As per the agreement with L&T, the contractor has to complete the project within five years of the Appointed Date. Sources say that the government wants to fix an Appointed Date even though the process of land acquisition is incomplete. However, L&T is unwilling to proceed unless it gets Right of Way. Delay in the declaration of the Appointed Date, or the official commencement of the Metro Rail project, has forced L&T to revise its plans for incurring loans from banks. In a letter to the Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd on Tuesday, L&T said that if the Appointed Date is declared this month, then the first stage of the project - the 8km stretch between Nagole and Mettiguda on Corridor 3 - will be operational by April 2015.

As per the concession agreement signed between the state government, L&T and the Hyderabad Metro Rail Ld (HMRL) on September 4, 2010, the work had to start on March 3, 2011, with the banks supposed to have disbursed loans in accordance with the withdrawal plan and the progress of the work. Now, with the original plan mired in problems, L&T has to submit a revised blueprint, which the authorities are presently working on.
"The banks want us to submit a revised plan for loan withdrawal given the delay in commencement of works due to which we were not able to take on the loan.  We will submit the revised plan in a week's time and, thereafter, the project will be fast-tracked," Vivek Gadgil, chief executive and managing director of L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad), told TOI.
However, without the declaration first of an 'Appointed Date', the revised plan will be of little help as the banks are bound to insist on a fixed starting point which would allow them to calculate the deadline for the project.

"Some factors are in our hands and some are in the hands of the government. You have to ask them why there is a delay in the declaration of the Appointed Date," Gadgil said. He added that depot construction work was on in full swing at Miyapur and Nagole while recasting jobs for viaducts and the erection of piers, too, were underway.
Gadgil said that L&T had spent over Rs 500 crore on the project since the signing of the concession agreement on September 4, 2010.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3-Month break for Hyderabad Metro rail works

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metro Rail works are likely to be given a break for close to three months from August to October this year in view of the prestigious International Bio-Diversity Summit scheduled to be held in the State capital in October. This was informed by NVS Reddy, managing director of Hyderabad Metro Rail project, at a review meeting on city beautification held at the GHMC main office near Tank Bund on Wednesday.

He also pointed out that the authorities would be writing letters to the construction company- Larsen &Toubro, to remove all the soil-testing blockages erected in the middle of the city roads on various routes by August 15.

The rest of the works would be taken up only after the conclusion of the COP summit. GHMC Commissioner M T Krishna Babu directed the zonal commissioners to personally inspect identified corridors, along with officials of the APCPDCL, HMWSSB and R&B, to ensure full development of the corridors and also to expedite the works on priority basis with regard to relocation of electric poles, transformers, shifting of unused pipes from the roads, bringing the level of manholes to the road height etc. Read the full news item in The Hans India, 24 May 2012 at the following link:

We would like to ask: 
The metro MD stated in the Affidavit to AP High Court that EACH DAY'S DELAY WILL ADD RS. 5 Cr/day to the project cost. Now who will be responsible for an escalation of about Rs. 450 cr (90 days@5 cr)? Will he or L&T explain?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Metro gives Larsen & Toubro monopoly over city transport
B V Shiv Shankar, Times of India, Hyderabad, Apr 27, 2012,

HYDERABAD: While Hyderabad metro rail is expected to be the panacea to the growing traffic congestion in the city, the urban rail services can sound the death knell to other public transportsystems already in place in the city due to a monopoly clause granted by the state to Larsen & Toubro, the private partner, through the concession agreement.

The clause in the 
concession agreement restricts the government from developing or improving the public transport system along the stretch of the three corridors- Miyapur to LB Nagar (corridor-I), Jubilee Bus Station to Falaknuma (corridor-II) and Nagole to Shiplaramam (corridor-III) - where the metro rail is taking shape. This would mean that there would be no scope for the improvement of the city bus service or MMTS (Multi-Model Transport System) that has emerged as a popular mode of urban rail transport.

The concession agreement says: "The government shall not construct any rail or road transport system between, inter alia, the three metro corridors" for a period of 35 years from the date the metro rail becomes operational. Further, L&T is entitled to an additional concession period of another 35 years. That means that the state government cannot develop any other public transport system for over 70 years without the consent of the private engineering company.

More startlingly, the concession agreement even restricts the government from revising the fare for the public transport or extending discounts or reductions in the fare and in the event of breach of these provisions, the government is liable to pay compensation to L&T under the latter's terms.

This clause can go against the state government and can end up acting against the interests of the commuter for whose benefit the metro rail has been conceived. This is because at a delay of Rs 5 crore per day in the construction of the project, keeping in mind the factors of the prevailing rate of inflation, insurance, currency fluctuation and rate of interest on the escalated project cost, the basic fare of the metro rail is expected to be around Rs 14 as of April 1, 2016. This would mean that the commuter would have to pay a high price for travelling on the metro rail even as the state would be helpless in improving the other modes of transport.

Charging that these provisions of the concession agreement are in violation of the Competition Act 2002, members of civil society, who have already petitioned the AP High Court against Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) on the charges of changing the alignment unilaterally, are now mulling moving the Competition Commission. "The provisions made in the concession agreement are monopolistic and are in defiance of the Competition Act. We are planning to complain to the Competition Commission," said Prof C Ramachandriah, who is spearheading the agitation against metro rail project.

While citing a similarity of the Hyderabad metro rail case with that of the Bangalore International Airport (BIA) that is facing a case under the Monopolistic Trade Practice Act after it insisted upon the closure of the government-run HAL airport in the city, Ramachandriah said curtailing the growth of public sector companies to suit the needs of private companies was unfair. A petition filed by Vivek Kulkarni, a former IAS officer, against BIA, is pending in the Karnataka high court.

However, authorities in HMRL said the 
metro rail service would only supplement the existing public transport system, and, hence, would not violate the Competition Act. "We are making use of the city buses as the feeder service for the metro rail. There is no question of treating it as our competitor," said a senior officer in the HMRL. An e-mail query to the L&T did not elicit reply.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HMR told to seek public opinion on metro rail

Seek public opinion on metro rail: High Court to Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited
Times of India,  Apr 18, 2012
HYDERABAD: A division bench of the high court on Tuesday asked both the authorities of Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL), the state government and various other stakeholders including the owners of the properties which are being acquired for the project, to work out within a week a model through which the responsibility of eliciting public opinion is fulfilled and the project moves from its initial phase to the next stage.

The bench was hearing an appeal filed by HMRL against the order of a 
single judge staying the ongoing project work. The judge found fault with the authorities for not hearing the public before going ahead with the project work. The stay was granted following a petition filed by the owners of the properties.

The metro rail authorities showed the details of the project to the bench comprising 
Chief JusticeMadan B Lokur and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar on Tuesday through a power point presentation.

D V Sitarama Murthy, 
senior counsel for the property owners, said that the project was completely shrouded in mystery as the officials displayed a scant regard for a democratic approach. "Their arrogance in refusing even to listen to us is disturbing," he said. "Their attempt to describe it as a tramway is also not correct," he said and added that the project was very much a metro rail. The dangerous curves in the proposed line between Ameerpet and Shilparamam were a result of change of alignments. In crowded areas, the options of underground rail should be considered, he said. The chief justice asked both the authorities and the petitioners to work out a model through which public opinion on the project could be elicited. "It's not possible to hear half of Hyderabad now. Therefore, it would be better for each side to nominate experts to put forward their opinion during the public hearing," he said.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's tramway, not metro rail

It's tramway, not metro rail
B.V. Shiv Shankar, Times of India, Apr 15, 2012.
HYDERABAD: Is Hyderabad going to have a metro rail or a glorified toy train chugging through the city at a snail's pace? In a surprising declaration before the AP high court, Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) Managing Director,  N V S Reddy said that though the project is named as metro rail, in reality, it is a tramway. This was stated in the writ petition filed in the high court on April 9 seeking the vacation of the stay imposed by a single bench of the court last month on the works on the stretch between Ameerpet and Jubilee Hills of corridor 3 (Nagole-Shilparamam) of the 'metro rail' project.

"Hyderabad Metro Rail project is a tramway and that merely the project is named as metro rail will not cease to be a tramway," N V S Reddy said in the petition. What Reddy meant was that instead of a rapid mass transport that is supposed to be a panacea for the city's growing traffic problem, what actually taking shape is a low potential tramway.
"With the advancement of technology, it is possible to bring a tramway at an elevated level and it was valid because the service is only meant for intra-city traffic unlike a rail system that is meant for inter-city long-distance traffic," N V S Reddy said in the writ petition. HMRL's appeal seeking the vacation of the stay is slated to be heard by the division bench of Chief JusticeMadan B Lokur and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar on April 17.

Experts feel a tramway can never match a metro rail in terms of handling traffic load and speed. While the metro rail - a rapid mass transit system -has a maximum speed of 120 km per hour and an average speed of 80 kmph, a tramway can travel at a maximum speed of 40 km per hour and will have an average speed of a mere 20-25 kmph!

As far as the traffic capacity is concerned, a metro train can handle 50,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPD) at peak hours, while a tramway's capacity is just 4,000 passengers per hour per direction. Normally, a tramway is suitable for short-distance public transport carrying low passenger load with low speed and coal mines where the services are used to transport workers from one side to other and in amusement parks.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

L&T stays away from Metro site tour

L&T stays away from Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited site tour
Times of India,| Apr 7, 2012.
HYDERABAD: While Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) claimed on Friday that the project was well on course, representatives of Larsen & Toubro, the project contractor, were conspicuous by their absence when the site inspection was conducted. 

Sources in L&T said the company was insisting on addressing critical issues like getting the HC stay vacated on the works in the stretch between Ameerpet and Jubilee Hills, which is a part of Corridor-III between Nagole and Shilparamam, before claiming that all was well as far as the progress of the project was concerned.

HMRL took the media on a tour to Miyapur where it acquired 104 acres of land for the project, recently, after the high court gave its nod to fresh notification for the land acquisition. Legislators Jayaprakash Narayan
 and Bhikshapathi Yadav, representing Kukatpally and Serilingampally, through which the metro rail passes, accompanied the team. 

A highly-placed source in the L&T said the company was not interested in being present at the event as it would convey a wrong message that the project work had begun when, actually, it was not the case. "Preparatory works are not the actual works and people must not be confused about it. Our participation would have created that confusion and, therefore, we stayed away," said the source.

The sources in the L&T said the company was particularly concerned about the court stay on the works on the stretch between Ameerpet and Jubilee Hills as the court had made some serious observations about the modalities of dealing with the project when it gave the stay order last month. The court has said: "There is a serious lacuna in the very launching of the project, under the AP Tramways Act, although it is almost a full-fledged railway."

While HMRL is taking time to file an appeal in the court asking for vacation of the stay in the backdrop of the court's scathing remarks, L&T is understood to have expressed its concerned over the delay. "HMRL's priority should have been to take efforts to vacate the stay instead of conducting the site visits that would not take us anywhere at this stage," said the sources in L&T.

Replying to media query relating to the issue at the site visit, NVS Reddy, managing director of HMRL, said the efforts were on to tackle all the legal issues pending. "I would not like to talk about the stay order at this juncture as it would be sub judice. But, I am sure that we can convince the court that we are on right track and there is no doubt 
in our mind that the project will face any hurdles on its way." 

Sources in the HMRL said they were studying the court's order and would take some more time before filing the appeal as it had to be done critically well considering the court's remarks.

Apart from the stay order there are many issues to be resolved before handing over the entire Right of Way (ROW) to the L&T. While HMRL is yet to acquire 15.5 acres of land, earmarked for the project in Osmania University,
 the project evoked violent protests in Sultan Bazar area that comes in the. Besides, HMRL Road widening is yet to be done at various parts along the stretch of the planned alignment of the project.

Friday, March 16, 2012

High Court stays works on a key stretch of Metro Corridor-3

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday stayed the execution of all works of the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) pertaining to corridor three between Greenlands and Shilparamam. The stay orders were given by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, who was hearing a writ petition filed by a group of affected people who formed a Joint Action Committee. Their contention was that the metro rail alignment in respect of Ameerpet-Greenlands stretch was realigned without consulting the people whose properties would have to be demolished.
Some of the excerpts relevant points from the judgment are - 
- The effort of the HMR appears to be, to shield or immunise itself from any plausible objections, and unfortunately the State, in its anxiety to spread a red-carpet to a private agency, has chosen to violate and break the law, enacted by itself.
It is not out of place to mention that the very purpose of enacting the A.P. Tramways Act was, keeping in view the present ‘Metro Railway Project’.  So much of urgency was felt that an ordinance was issued and later on, it became an Act.
- Metro Rail was granted on earlier occasion in favour of an agency, in a similar clandestine manner, keeping the entire project away from public scrutiny.  At least when its decision turned out to be a blunder, it ought to have been careful and followed the procedure prescribed under the relevant provisions of law.
- Acceptance of the contention of the respondents would lead to disastrous consequences.  A scheme, which involves transfer of vast extents of Government land, acquisition of large number of private properties, dislocation of the road transport system for a considerable time, conferring of the largesse of a high magnitude upon a private agency, cannot take place without reference to any public opinion.  
(Note: we will upload the judgment copy soon - C.R)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Metro rail cost overshoots estimates

Metro rail cost overshoots estimates
B.V. Shankar, Times of India, Mar 8, 2012.
HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, plagued with initial hiccups, is poised to be the costliest urban rail service in India with each day's delay in commencement of construction work adding Rs 5 crore to the escalating project cost, now estimated at Rs 15,957 crore. Going by the calculations of Hyderabad Metro Rail limited (HMRL), the fare would be the most expensive in the country. The reason: escalation of project cost because of the tardy pace of work. 

In a counter affidavit filed before the high court, N V S Reddy, managing director of HMRL, has said he was concerned over the escalation of project cost due to delay in beginning of the construction work that is already a year behind schedule. As per the concession agreement, the construction work of the Hyderabad metro rail project should have commenced on March 3, 2011. The official estimated cost of the project at present stands at Rs 14, 132 crore but at an interest rate of 13%, a day's delay would increase the cost of the project by Rs 5 crore.

Since the project has already been delayed by a year, the interest component has accumulated to Rs 1,825 crore. As a result, the final current cost of the project stands at Rs 15, 957 crore.
 N V S Reddy had said the HMRL would give right of way (ROW) to L&T executing the project this month so that works would start and stage I - an 8 km stretch between Nagole and Mettuguda - in corridor III would be operational in December 2014. But, till date, there has been no progress on this front and the possibility of the construction work starting in March has become virtually impossible. The escalation of project cost will only result in higher fares, as sale of tickets is a major component of cost recovery for the L&T, the concessionaire executing the project on a public private partnership (PPP) model. "The ticket rates are fixed according to the concession agreement and subsequent government order. It is true that the delay costs money, so we are as anxious as anyone that the project should take off at the earliest," said Vivek B Gadgil, chief executive and managing director of L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad. 

Among the three metro rail services of the country- Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore- Namma Metro of Bangalore is the costliest at present and Hyderabad Metro is all set to overtake it in terms of fare price. Now, the basic price of a metro ticket (minimum rate up to 2 km) in Bangalore is Rs 10, while the average basic prices are Rs 5.60 and Rs 5.00 in Delhi and Kolkata respectively.

In Hyderabad, it would be a little higher than Rs 14, in case the metro rail is thrown open to service in 2016, the deadline as per the concession agreement signed between the state government and L& T in (Detailed Project Report) prepared in 2003, when the project was conceived with two corridors. Fixing the deadline at 2008, the DPR pegged the basic fare at Rs 5. The DPR said each day's delay would add Rs 35 lakh to the cost of project, considering inflation alone that would enhance the basic fare.

A second DPR was prepared in December 2006 adding Corridor III, and the estimated project was revised upwards to Rs 7711 crore and the basic fare fixed at Rs 6 with 2011 as the deadline for the commissioning of the project. The second DPR also said that each day's delay would add Rs 35 lakh to the project cost.The cost of the project was estimated at Rs 4,206 crore in the DPR Project.

"Tracing the footprints of the project since its conception, one can understand that the delay in starting the works is creating huge burden on the users of the service. The delay is caused due to ill conception of the project and we are not sure whether it would be commissioned before 2020. Even if that deadline is achieved, the fares will be so high that the service will not be affordable to the people for whom the public transport was aimed for," said Dr Chigurupati Ramachandriah, professor in urban studies, Centre for Social and Economic Studies.

September 2010. As HMRL is unlikely to meet the deadline, the fare prices are destined to travel further north with each day's delay. A Government Order notified, on April 14, 2011, has said the basic fare of HMR ticket would be Rs 8 keeping April 1, 2014 as the date of commissioning of the project. The GO has authorized the concessionaire to increase the fare by 5% annually according to which the basic fare would be Rs 8.40 from April 1, 2015. Apart from this, the concessionaire is authorized to enhance the fare price based on the prevailing rate of inflation, insurance, currency fluctuation, rate of interest on escalated project cost.

The concessionaire is allowed to revise the fare considering 60% of WPI (Wholesale Price Index, measuring inflation) and accordingly, the basic price would be Rs 9.40, on April 1, 2015. Considering other factors - insurance, currency fluctuation and floating interest rate - it would increase further and by April 1, 2016 the basic fare would be just a little more than Rs 14. And as per the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) calculation, the basic fare for Bangalore Metro as on April 1, 2016 would be Rs 12.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Legal hurdles to Hyderabad Metro

Times View (box item)
     The main reason why the Hyderabad Metro Rail project is faced with opposition at every step is because it was thrust upon the city without consultations with people, the main stakeholders, as to what they wanted. Predictably then, the metro rail corridor alignments along bustling commercial stretches are being opposed tooth and nail with innumerable traders facing a loss of livelihood due to the project. The purpose of a public transport system like the metro rail is to ease commuters’ woes in the Greater Hyderabad region. But that cannot be achieved at the cost of inconveniencing the very people it aims to serve. The rail project will be riddled with problems unless the government revisits the blueprint with a fresh, people-friendly perspective.
Legal hurdles threaten to delay Metro rail project
Chances Of HMRL Making Dec. ’14 Deadline Look Bleak
BV Shiva Shankar TNN 
Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) wants to kick off services with the first train plying between Nagole and Mettiguda some time in December 2014. 
    However, a series of roadblocks appear imminent which can only serve to delay the public transport project which has been designed to introduce muchneeded convenience to commuting in the city.
    The HMRL is working towards a self-imposed deadline to ensure that Stage-1 — the 8km stretch between Nagole and Metiguda in Corridor III — is operational by December 2014 with plans afoot to commence work by March this year.
    “Preliminary work including soil testing, identifying land for the depots and preparations for production of pre-cast slabs, have been completed.
    “A few procedural issues exist but construction work should begin in March,” said a senior officer. Although HMRL is confident of meeting its deadline, the project is beset by all kinds of problems.
    Having come together as Greenlands, Ameerpet, Madhuranagar, Yusufguda and Sri Krishna Nagar Joint Action committee (GAMYS-JAC), traders have moved high court on the charge that HMRL had unilaterally changed the alignment of Corridor III, between Nagole and Shilparamam.
    The petition says that the alignment was changed to make the rail corridor pass through Ameerpet rather than Panjagutta, which was what had been envisaged in the original plan. The work cannot be taken up on the Ameerpet-Banjara Hills unless that issue is first sorted.
    HMRL has now filed a counter affidavit arguing that the alignment has not been changed. The case is coming up for hearing Monday next and the fate of the work depends on its outcome.
    The concession agreement signed between the state government and L&T, the project partner executing the works, stipulates five years to be the timeframe for the commissioning of the service.
    The HMRL has yet to issue right of way to L&T but, as per the agreement, work should have started on March 3, 2011 and been
 completed by March 3, 2016. Needless to say, the current situation has made observers skeptical about the possibility of that deadline being met. 
    The HMRL is reportedly exploring the option of issuing right of way for those parts of Corridor III where there are no objections. “Going for piecemeal construction might be HMRL’s ploy to mislead the public on the progress of the work and silence the agitating traders.
    “It is not fair on its part to go ahead with the work leaving issues unresolved,” said C Ramachandriah, an activist spearheading the agitation.
    Even L&T, it is learnt, is not comfortable with right of way granted in bits and pieces and it could all add up to ensure that work is still to start in March.
    Vivek B Gadgil, chief executive and managing director, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad), speaking from Dubai, told TOI that the company felt it imperative that the right of way notification is accompanied by no outstanding issues.
    Apart from the alignment dispute, pending litigation on land acquisition, too, has hit the project.
    Of the 269 acres of land earmarked for the project, 104 acres are tied up in litigation. Authorities said that they had got the high court’s nod to issue a fresh land acquisition notification which would deal with the legal hurdles.
    However, many in the state government conceded that nothing short of a miracle could ensure that work on the metro rail project began in March this year.