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
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.