Friday, December 13, 2013

Hyderabad metro breaks Manjira water pipeline

The following news item refers to the breaking of a 1000 mm diametre main pipeline carrying drinking water to Hyderabad city by the metro construction near Moosapet. For several hours the water gushed out and flooded the area.At the time it was broken by the drilling, there was an estimated flow of 3000 cubic metres per hour. Due to this break down, water supply has been stopped today in several localities (Eenadu, 13 Dec, 2013).
(It may be recalled that the L&T company, which bagged the metro contract, has been conducting soil tests for the last three years along the metro corridors. This incident proves how inefficient the L&T has been in undertaking the works in a scientific manner.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Who will pay the loans of Delhi Airport Line metro

Who will repay loans for Delhi airport Metro, Reliance or DMRC?
Author(s): Anupam Chakravartty Date:Nov 20, 2013
A consortium of banks led by Axis Bank and India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFC) has slapped legal notices on Delhi Airport Metro Express Line (DAMEL), a private-public partnership between Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Reliance-Infra, for non-payment of bank loans. The project has turned into a non-performing asset. This comes as a double blow for DAMEL, which is already engaged in a legal dispute between DMRC and Reliance-Infra.
DAMEL carries a little over 10,000 commuters between Shivaji Stadium and Dwarka, and halts at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to help commuters avoid traffic. But DAMEL now has nobody to take responsibility for its liabilities.
According to DMRC, which is now operating the airport Metro line, the 54:46 partnership between Reliance-Infra and DMRC failed to pay interest for the loans from the consortium of banks since March 2013. Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) borrowed Rs 1,800 crore from Axis Bank-led consortium and Rs 350 crore from UK-based IIFC after the company bagged the contract in 2009. DMRC spokesperson issued a statement that liability to pay interest for the loan rests with DAMEPL even though Reliance Infra has invoked the termination clause to the agreement.
On the other hand, Reliance-Infra issued a statement that its concessionaire DAMEPL “has terminated the Concession Agreement through termination notice dated October 8, 2012, owing to DMRC’s Event of Default.”  It further stated that DMRC has already taken over the entire project with effect from July 1, this year with all existing contracts, employees from DAMEPL. Since July 1, DMRC has been collecting all the revenues while the arbitration proceedings are going on under Railway Board.
Earlier this year, the Comptroller Auditor General of India had pointed out that Reliance-Infra has diluted its stake in the concessionaire, a charge strongly refuted by Reliance Infra (see ‘Profitable Exit’). Since 2012, DAMEL operations came to standstill until January 2013 when Reliance-Infra pointed out some serious structural defects in the Metro line owing to which DAMEL trains had to slow down. While DMRC claims the faults were repaired, Reliance-Infra wanted to back out of the project citing losses.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lies and half-truths of Metro MDs on Land Robbery

Citizens for a Better Public Transport in Hyderabad
(A coalition of civil society organizations and individuals)
                                                                                 8 November 2013.
Press Release
Hyderabad Metro Rail Project
We Refute the Lies of NVS Reddy & VB Gadgil on Land Robbery
It appeared in the media today that the MDs of HMR and L&T Metro, Mr. NVS Reddy and V.B Gadgil are reported to have said that they have not taken an inch of excess land for the metro, and in fact there is still a shortfall of 22 acres or so.
We would like to reiterate that they have already taken 71 acres of excess lands which are not mentioned in the Concession Agreement. We challenge them to disclose the full details and put up the same in their websites. We are prepared for a public debate on this. This is nothing but a daylight robbery of precious public lands worth thousands of crores of rupees. We are talking about the land details listed in pages 179-80 of the Agreement and not about the lands meant for depots and maintenance at Nagole, Miyapur and Falaknuma. They are trying to hoodwink the people by covering up these issues, and only talk about the completing of the Nagole-Mettuguda stretch etc. etc.

NVS Reddy says that those who have been making allegations in the last five years have not proved anything. In fact it is the other way round. All allegations made by us have been proved. The fact that NVS Reddy refuses to appear on a common platform with us for a debate itself is a proof of our correctness in this.
1. We would like remind NVS Reddy and the public that the Order of Justice L. Narasimha Reddy of AP High Court in March 2012 justifies our position that there is no transparency in this project. We quote from the Order:
-          “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.”
-          “there is a serious lacunae in the very launching of the project, under the A.P. Tramways Act; though it is almost a full-fledged railway.”…”it is totally impermissible to establish a ‘Railway’, in name, structure and purport, under A.P. Tramways 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.” 
-          “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.”
2.  We would like to question the two MDs how they are going to provide parking and circulation for stations in those places where Osmania University refused to part with lands? How are the passengers in those areas going to benefit with the lands given at Raidurg?
3. Why should the public ask for every small information through RTI which NVS Reddy is suggesting? This itself shows the high-handed attitude of the metro MD. On one hand, they are claiming this project to be the most advanced technologically but, on the other hand, they don’t want to put the important details like Concession Agreement, DPRs, land allocations and station designs on their websites. This itself shows how dubious their claims and methods are.
4. They are only talking about the lands of Old Gandhi Hospital and at Raidurg as compensation for the OU lands. This is only a half-truth. What about the 2 acres of land of Water Board at Yousufguda, 8 acres at Erramanjil, 10.25 acres of GHMC lands/properties, 17 acres of HMDA, and small amounts of lands at a few other places. These are not part of the Agreement. If not land robbery, what else is it?
5. The MDs are claiming that the project design was finalized in the pre-bidding stage itself, hence it cannot go underground at this stage near heritage buildings. If so, we would like to question them why they are not sticking to pre-bid design and are changing the alignment of Line 2 towards Old Gandhi Hospital and extending the Line 3from Shilparamam to Raidurg? Nearly 25 acres of lands are taken at these two places only.
That means, the two MDs have no problems with pre-bid designs and are willing to make changes to grab prime lands but will not do so to protect the historic heritage precincts. If not hypocrisy and malicious intentions, what else is it?

6. We would like to appeal to Shri KCR and TRS party that if they are serious about protecting the heritage of the city, they need not wait for the metro to be completed and then demolish it. If they are sincere about their claims, they should demolish the piers NOW in front of the Public Garderns.
 If the two MDs are serious about establishing the transparency in the dealings of this project, we demand that they put up in their websites all the details regarding –
-          Concession Agreement,
-          Detailed Project Reports,
-          Lands promised in the Agreement and lands allocated along with the location and extent, 
-          Complete designs of all the metro stations along the three corridors (this project is known to have got the best design award globally but the designs for several crucial metro stations are not even ready),
-          Complete designs of the intersections of the Corridors with one another at three places.
If there is transparency and honesty in the affairs of the project there is no need to indulge in publicity gimmicks by organizing competitions in the name of “pick a click”, “Brand Ambassadors”, metro coach exhibition  etc. to hoodwink the public especially the youth and students.
We would like to advise the so-called “brand ambassadors” to read the Concession Agreement and understand it before competing in these events. Otherwise, they would be spreading only lies and become pawns in the hands of the metro authorities.
This is an externally shining project like “medi pandu” but, if opened, a lot of muck will come out.
Dr. C. Ramachandraiah, Social Scientist, Convenor, Citizens for Better Public Transportation
in Hyderabad (Mobile: 94400 35405).
Mr. S. Jeevan Kumar, State President, Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh
Mr. B. Ramakrishna Raju, State Convenor, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), A.P.
Mr O.M. Debara, General Secretary, Forum for a Better Hyderabad.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TRS threatens demolition of Hyderabad Metro

In the news clipping in Telugu  given below (published in Andhra Jyothy today -5Nov13), TRS chief threatened to demolish the metro if it causes damage to the heritage areas. I wish TRS is serious about it. Given below in English the main demands of the KCR's letter to the CM of AP. 

In a letter addressed to the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh (17 Aug 2011), president of TRS, K. Chandrasekhar Rao raised several issues relating to the elevated metro in Hyderabad. He demanded that the documents of the project be made available and be debated widely in an all-party meeting, civil society organisations and the experts. And regretted that no initiative was forthcoming from either the government of the metro authorities. 
The government did not respond to this letter. When the metro works were started the TRS too did not make any noise at all! That was a big disappointment to the activists.
In the said letter he demanded that - (quoting from the letter) -
Hence we request you to kindly-
  • Hold open discussions on DPR and Concessional Agreement and other relevant reports and change the contents of the agreement to protect the government land and overall interests of people in terms of regulating the tariff
  • Change the alignment of corridor-2 to protect the historical monuments such as Sultan Bazar
  • Construct underground metro to protect the historical bazaars such as M.J. Market, Jambagh and Assembly, Gun Park etc.
  • Construct underground metros to avoid further traffic congestions at Punjagutta, Ameerpet,  Begumpet etc.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stop the Land Robbery by L&T Metro in Hyderabad

Press Meet against the Land Robbery by L&T Metro in Hyderabad. Blatant violation of Concession Agreement. Already 71.39 acres of land allocated in excess of what is promised in the Agreement. Where will it end? Government of AP is taking away the land from other Department and handing over the same to L&T. This is a real estate project in the garb of public transportation. The following persons addressed the press today (24October13): Dr. C. Ramachandraiah, Social Scientist, S. Jeevan Kumar, State President, Human Rights Forum, A.P.; Mr. B. Ramakrishna Raju, State Convenor, NAPM, A.P. and O.M. Debara, General Secretary, Forum for a Better Hyderabad. Read our full Press Release under the Downloads on the Home page of this blog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Traders on Corridor 2 protest against Metro route

Thoughtless and scandalous actions of the Hyderabad metro authorities are giving rise to new conflicts and tensions. Corridor 2 (from Jubilee bus station to Falaknuma) is the most useless route and is most destructive in the sense that many shops and buildings will be demolished on this route. The famous Sultan Bazaar is located on this route. In the present instance of the news item below, the route of Corridor 2 has been diverted towards the Old Gandhi Hospital which leads to demolition of many buildings including taking over of land of a church. The authorities are also eying on taking over about 10 acres of the hospital land for the L&T's real estate business. There is no any technical report or expert opinion for the diversion of this route.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

At heritage sites, the metro must go underground

Hyderabad Metro must go underground at Heritage sites. Appeal by concerned activists/citizens from all over India published in Telugu in Andhrajyothy today.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Malls & Multiplexes of L&T Metro Rail

CR’s comment: Only three malls now. More to follow. We have been saying this before. It’s like building irrigation canals even before the dam work begins (eg. Polavaram under YSR regime in AP). The very definition of Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) is “Rail and Real Estate” as per the Concession Agreement. Already the govt of AP has allocated nearly 70 acres more of land that what is promised in the Agreement. What more you need?

Panjagutta is already a congested junction by all means. It is also a heavy pedestrian area but there are no footpaths. Now the L&T malls will further choke this area. Where is the transport planning here? It’s all real estate, my dear friends! Metro rail is only a mask. Pursuing this kind of development model led by contractors and companies (thru our political parties – with no difference in Regions and Ideologies) is what has pushed Andhra Pradesh into the present crisis (on division, unified AP).

L&T plans 3 malls-cum-multiplexes along metro rail corridors in city
Koride Mahesh| TOI, 28 Aug 2013, Hyderabad.
Times view: The Khairatabad to Ameerpet Road is already chock-a-block with multiplexes and shopping malls and adding more new ones will only add to the chaotic scenes prevailing in the streets. Plans to construct malls and multiplexes in the areas mentioned are also illogical, as there are several screens within a few kilometres, especially in Punjagutta. Instead of spending crores of rupees on multiplexes, authorities should invest more on traffic management by building flyovers and sidewalks for pedestrians. 
Hyderabad: Even before the metro rail tracks are put in place, project developer Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has started moves to commercially exploit parcels of land allotted to it along the three metro corridors. The project developer has proposed to construct malls with multiplexes at Punjagutta, Erramanzil and Madhapur. The L&T has applied for provisional no objection certificate (NOC) from the state disaster response and fire services department recently. Once the NOCs are obtained, the construction giant might seek building permission from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
Official sources said a mall, including a multiplex and office space, is being planned on 70,127 square metres land, where government quarters were demolished near Srinagar junction on the arterial Punjagutta-Ameerpet road. The land was handed over to the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) last year. At Punjagutta, the mall and multiplex would come up in one block, which would have three basements, ground and five upper floors.
L&T plans to build hotels, malls 
Hyderabad: Eight screens will come up on fourth and fifth floors. An office block is being planned in an area of 5,621 sq metres with three basements, ground and six upper floors. Another multiplex has been proposed at Erramanzil, near NIMS, where government quarters were razed for the metro rail project. L&T proposes to put up a mall, including a six-screen multiplex, and another multiplex and commercial building would come up opposite My Home Hub at Madhapur. “We have inspected the sites on the request of L&T metro rail and recommended provisional NOCs for malls,” regional fire officer P Venkata Ramana told TOI.
    As per the concessionaire agreement, the metro project developer could exploit space up to 18.5 million square feet (sft). Nearly, 12.5 million sft would be required for metro rail depots and terminal locations, while six million sft would be available for metro rail stations. HMR has agreed to transfer 269 acres land to the metro rail developer for executing the project. Of the total land, nearly 70% of the space was allocated to the three depots and 57 acres of land at 66 metro stations (air space) would be utilized for commercial exploitation.
    L&T, which is eyeing transit oriented development along the metro corridors, is likely to come up similar proposals for office spaces, malls and multiplexes apart from hotels, service apartments, healthcare facilities like hospitals, poly clinics, convention centres, theme parks, entertainment zones and convenience retail at suitable places.
    Meanwhile, both the fire services department and L&T have not yet finalized fire safety plan at metro stations. The fire department has offered to depute its senior officials for overseeing fire safety measures at stations, but L&T wants to have its own trained personnel. “In Delhi Metro, fire officials were deputed to train staff and ensure safety at all metro stations, but L&T wants to have its own set up,” a senior official of the fire services department said.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hyderabad Metro will be doomed after AP's division

Hyderabad metro will be doomed after the state's division. Because, it is designed on false projections and lies. It is aimed at giving more lands to the private party for real estate development. It is premised on extracting more and more concessions  from the state govt. It will become a huge millstone (gudibanda in Telugu) around the neck of the new T state. I will post a more elaborate write-up later. Now the news item in TOI.- CR

Division of Andhra may hit ridership on metro rail
HYDERABAD: Will there be any impact on metro rail ridership if the state is bifurcated? The answer is yes. Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) officials fear it might impact the projected ridership for the metro rail, which in turn might hit its fare box collection. Apart from this, the impact is also likely to hit transit-oriented development and advertising revenue of L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad). When the metro rail was designed a few years ago, the officials estimated ridership could be 15 lakh per day by 2015 and might touch 22 lakh per day by 2025. The officials arrived at the figure by taking volume of traffic, population and number of vehicles and their growth per year into consideration. Bidders had also taken these figures into consideration while quoting their bid amount for bagging the contract during the bidding process.

However, analysts claim the projected figure might change if the state is divided as growth of the city, floating population, vehicular traffic and other figures might not be relevant as development might slow down. "Several traffic studies of Hyderabad reveal that every year two lakh personal vehicles were being added to the roads in the city. The total motorized trips are 35 lakh per day, including 61% two-wheelers, 21% autos, 15% cars and 3% buses. Now, new vehicles and passenger trips will be less in the separate state," an official of the municipal administration and urban development (MA&UD) department said.

Infrastructure giant L&T had bagged the metro rail project in 2010 with an approved cost of Rs 14,132 crore. The rail project is being implemented on three corridors - Miyapur-LB Nagar, Jubilee Bus Station-Falaknuma and Nagole-Shilparamam - covering a distance of 72 kms. The first two stretches might be ready by December 2014 and commercial operations are likely to begin in June 2015. The entire 72-km stretch is expected to be completed by July 2016. The concession period for the project is 35 years, which includes five-year construction period, and could be extended by another 25 years.

Interestingly, the
 DMRC had prepared a detailed project report for the metro rail project eight years ago and estimated the traffic to be around 40,000 passengers per hour in peak direction (PPHPD). However, the HMRL officials revised it to 60,000 PPHPD as there was growth of traffic in the city. Initially, the metro train would have three-car trains carrying 1,000 passengers each and later it would be six-car trains for 6,000 passengers. The HMR has already announced frequency of the trains to be 3 to 5 minutes during peak hours keeping in view of the likely ridership.

"The L&T can ask the state government to increase passenger fare (freezed minimum fare of Rs 8) or seek more concession period to reach their estimated revenues," another official said.W hen contacted for comments on the likely impact, Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) managing director NVS Reddy refused to comment on the issue.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hyderabad needs a directly elected Executive Mayor

My piece in the Times of India today (28 June) on the need to have a directly elected mayor with executive powers for Hyderabad. A group of us had a brainstorming session on this in the past and held a press meet also before the Corporation elections. As there was a constraint on the word limit, I could not elaborate on some issues. But the spirit is there. - CR
Hyderabad has emerged as a city of national and global importance and has been contributing immensely to economic growth, employment generation and providing livelihoods for vast sections of people. It is therefore imperative that cities like this are governed well so as to provide high quality civic services like in other cities in developed countries. What we need is an effective and good city government headed by a directly elected executive mayor with a strong political commitment, orientation towards reform in administrative and financial aspects and who is accountable to citizens.
In the present set up, there is no leader the citizens can look up to. The Water Board is headed by the chief minister who has no time for it. Its day-to-day affairs are looked after by a civil servant. Nobody knows who the board members are and when it meets (if it meets at all). Whether it is highly iniquitous supply, poor quality or irregular timings, the citizens have to run from pillar to post. Take illegal constructions. The building regularization scheme (BRS), which when implemented some years ago was supposed to be a one-time measure, was later 'revised' into a building penalization scheme (BPS), thus ensuring that the illegal activity continues.
Water bodies continue to shrink and vanish despite new laws. Less said the better about the high profile metro rail project. Lands are being allocated to L&T beyond the scope of and much more than what is listed in the concession agreement, alignments are altered, heritage buildings affected etc, but there is nobody to answer. Meanwhile, its promoters are on a brand-building bandwagon spreading half-truths (and some untruths) to the people. For instance, the project is known to have got an international award for best design while the fact is that the designs are not yet finalized for several crucial junctions/routes. All that the citizens have is an accounts officer heading the project who is not accountable to the public at all. The quality of public transportation continues to decline with no 'father' for the APSRTC to claim its rightful place in the city.
All these factors are having a debilitating effect on the quality of civic life. The citizens have to build up pressure on the government and the political parties with a long term goal of far reaching changes in the way the city is governed. The civil society has an important role to play in this task. The long term goals should be: 1. Direct elections to the mayor of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation; 2. Making the mayor an executive mayor with adequate powers; 3. Giving effective administrative and financial powers to the city government; 4. Making all the service providing agencies in the city accountable to the city government (eg. public transport, water supply & sewage, fire safety, environment etc., to mention only a few).

Several experts in the field of urban governance in Hyderabad have deliberated on these issues in the past. The city cannot be governed in the same old ways if the situation has to be improved drastically.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Metro MD misleads the people of Telangana with job reservation

Misleading the people of Telangana by lying. Hyderabad metro MD promises that 40k jobs (out of 50k that would be generated) would be reserved for Telanganites. Can he do that? One official says: "In reality, the number of employees required ... is around 20,000. The inflated number being assured by the metro rail authorities can later lead to unrest among the local people apart from misleading the public." It is a PPP project and the metro MD will have no say in recruitment. 
- CR
Metro rail MD in bind over jobs for T youth
May 9, 2013
HYDERABAD: A TRS-TJAC delegation on Wednesday called on Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) authorities and demanded that 80% of the jobs that the project will generate should be reserved for people from Telangana. According to sources, when a delegation met HMRL managing director NVS Reddy, he assured that the demand would be fulfilled. Reddy told them that the project would generate about 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. and that they would not have any hesitation in reserving 80% of it for the people of Telangana

The delegation that met NVS Reddy included
 TRS Siddipet MLA T Harish Rao, politburo member Sravan Kumar Dasoju and MLCsSwamy Goud and Mahmood Ali besides TJAC leaders Srinivas Goud and Addanki Dayakar. The team reminded the metro rail officials of the AP Public Employment (Organization of Local Cadre and Regulation Direct Recruitment Order- 1975) Act, also known as Presidential Order 1975, which reserves 80% of government jobs to locals. "We explained the provision of the Act and also warned of an agitation in case our demand is not met. Responding positively to our demand, NVS Reddy said that of the total estimated 50,000 jobs, 40,000 would be reserved for locals."

However, according to a senior official in the municipal administration department, the TRS delegation approached the wrong party in seeking an assurance on job reservation as the Hyderabad Metro Rail authorities have no say in the matter. "The metro rail project is an infrastructure project being executed under public private partnership (PPP), and Larsen & Toubro is the concessionaire for the project. HMRL has no role in the recruitment because L&T has given the operation and maintenance (O&M) contract to Keolis, a France-based public transport operator, which would hire people in consultation with the concessionaire," said the official.

According to the official, HMRL has got it wrong with regard to the number of jobs that the project is expected to generate. "In reality, the number of employees required , including construction and operation, is around 20,000. The inflated number being assured by the metro rail authorities can later lead to unrest among the local people apart from misleading the public," said the official.

Monday, April 29, 2013

L&T's 'Goodwill Gesture' to Hyderabad Journalists

Project and Publicity. Quid pro Quo? Or What else? A big construction firm, L&T, is 'helping' in the design and supervision of constructing a swanky building as a 'goodwill gesture' for the Hyderabad Press Club in Somajiguda. You may wonder why the L&T has developed so much love for the media. It is building Hyderabad metro rail (HMR) which is mired in many controversies. It may also be noted that L&T and HMR organised a lavish party recently for the journalists in a place on the outskirts of the city (We published it on our blog.) What else could be the motive if not getting favourable publicity? Read the news item below.

Row over L&T gesture, Times of India, Hyderabad, Apr 29, 2013. 
HYDERABAD: Plans to build a swankier press club at Somajiguda had run into controversy with several members of the club objecting to the decision, which they say, has been taken by the management without taking majority of journalists into confidence. The new club's design, comprising three floors, a centralised kitchen, a convention centre, a press conference hall and two restaurants, has been planned by construction firm Larsen and Toubro(L&T). While club authorities said that the total cost would be around Rs 4-5 crore, they clarified that the construction major is helping the club in executing the project as a 'goodwill gesture'. During an emergency general body meeting held on Sunday at the club to discuss the plans, members raised questions on the involvement of L&T in the project. Last week, L&T engineers gave a power point presentation on the design of the new building to a selected few members, which did not go down well with the remaining.
Larsen & Toubro is building the metro rail project in Hyderabad at an estimated cost of Rs 14,132 crore. The project has been dogged with inordinate delay and there has been numerous complaints on allotment of prime land at dirt cheap rates. A case has been filed against the project by traders of Ameerpet, saying that the alignment of the project has been changed unilaterally, violating the detailed project report.

L&T has not been able to make inroads into the Sultan Bazaar area due to resistance from locals. "There is no doubt that the metro project has given L&T negative branding and I am sure they would do anything that could boost their image in Hyderabad," an analyst said.
For more, go to the link:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Critically analysing the Hyd Metro project in an international conference

I will be presenting my paper "Elevated Metro Rail and Undoing the City - Social Activism against a PPP Project in Hyderabad" in the Annual Conference of the Association of American Geographers in Los Angeles, USA during 9-13 April. It is the largest gathering of geographers in the world. About 7000 scholars from the discipline of Geography and other related fields will participate in the conference.

I will also be a panel speaker in a special session in honour of Prof. Neil Smith, a well-known leftist geographer, who passed away recently at the City University of New York. The session title is: "Geography Towards Revolution for Neil Smith - Part V: Radical Geography Roundtable Discussion". I will also focus on the metro project, the concession agreement, real estate, lack of transparency, the High Court Order etc. in this special session also.
- C.R

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Money only for Metro Rail, Not MMTS

The AP budget provides Rs. 500 crore for the ongoing metro rail for the financial year 2013-14. There has never been any shortage of allocations in the budget for this mega project. But the long neglected and awaited phase II of the MMTS (multi-modal transit system) gets nothing. It was reported in one newspaper that an amount of Rs. 17.5 cr was allocated for MMTS while one paper reported that there was no mention of this at all. Non-allocation of money for MMTS once again indicates that public transport and mobility of people in Hyderabad has never been a priority for the state government. In the last several years some paltry amounts have been allocated in the budgets but there is no evidence of spending that money.

(Photo: From a newspaper, no date available)

It may be recalled that MMTS trains are operated by the Indian Railways on the existing railway tracks. The phase I was completed in August 2003 with an investment of about Rs. 200 crore on a length of 40 km carrying about 1.5 lakh passengers everyday. These trains now connect Falaknuma-Kachiguda-Secunderabad-Begumpet-Lingampally and also Nampally-Lingampally. This is one of the cheapest modes of transportation and has become very popular with the commuters. It is a joint venture between Indian Railways and AP state govt with a share of 2/3rds by the latter.

The phase II of this project covering 70 km with a cost of about Rs.600 crore should have been completed by 2005. It would have connected Shamshabad, Gatkesar and Medchal on the outskirts with the city core. Ever since the metro rail project came to the centre stage in 2005 successive state govts have not shown any interest in allocating money to this project. 

Hyderabad city requires all modes of the transport to be improved and integrated over a period of time. But now, for the sake of the metro project, all the alternative/existing modes of transport are either neglected or downgraded. That is the tragedy of the present times. That shows the real nature of the metro rail project.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

MMTS train services neglected to favour Metro?

Vijayaraghavan Krishnamurthy's posting in MMTS Travellers' Group in Facebook:
While the Hyderabad Metro work starts in full swing, the city public transport which was to be strengthened by the MMTS - esp Phase II activities, gets a meagre allocation of Rs 30 Crores. How many such budgets we see like this without much or no allocation ? While authorities keep on talking that MMTS is one modes of transport which would be complimenting Metro - Where is that shown in action ? With so many MPs from AP / Hyderabad - not a single person is willing is take this up cause ... This has been a case of abandoned baby. While they talk about Rs 20,000 crores for the Metro, case of Rs 750 crores suddenly becomes problem for MMTS. Does this not show that is being sidelined ? - Is this not a clear case for those who claim that MMTS is being improved and is going to compliment the Metro ? At this moment i get reminded about the "Competition Clause" in the agreement of HMR. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Metro works bring city to halt

This is only the beginning as the metro works started in bits and pieces. "Call it the price you have to pay for development or just a colossal test of patience, fact is that ever since the metro work construction has begun in the city, neverending serpentine rows of vehicles, constant honking and road rage has become everyday reality of every Hyderabadi" says the news item in Times of India, Hyderabad Times, 9 Feb13. (  

Srividya Vemuri, a corporate professional, who commutes from Uppal to Gachibowli, has also found relief in local trains. “Travelling from Secunderabad to Hitec City via road is a two-hour journey as opposed to a swift 15 minutes by MMTS. I’ve cancelled my office cab and prefer going this way. It’s cheaper too,” she says. 
(CR- The HMR is campaigning that the inconvenience is only temporary. But the so called temporary can be a very long time. The Hyderabadis' real taste of this 'development' is yet to come.
It may be noted that MMTS is a local train service. It should have been strengthened by adding more services and completing a second phase, all in less than Rs. 600 cr. But the state govt has not shown any interest in this. Only on the expensive metro mega project.) (Photos courtesy: The Times of India, 9 Feb 13.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Drinks, Dinner and Dance

This is just to share on the tactics employed by the Hyderabad metro authorities (govt’s HMR and the private L&T) to promote an image for the metro in the city. This has nothing against the participants in the so called ‘interaction’ as we have a lot of good friends in the journalist fraternity.
On 20th January, the metro authorities invited many journalists for an ‘interactive’ session. It was not in their office in the city but at Taramati Baradari, a place known for cultural shows and partying on the outskirts of the city. What followed was less of interaction and more of drinks and dinner (with some dance by the chiefs of the HMR and L&T metro).  We are reproducing below an item in the Times of India, Hyderabad, 22 January 2013 under the title CHATPATA (image also inserted below the text).

“The NVS-Gadgil show “
“It was supposed to be a serious interaction (or so said the invite) with NVS Reddy and V B Gadgil over the future of metro rail in Hyderabad. But to everybody’s surprise, the event organised at Taramati Baradari over the weekend turned out to be comical with the Hyderabad Metro Rail chief deciding to entertain his guests by shaking a leg to some disco numbers being played by an orchestra team that had been especially brought in for the occasion. If that wasn’t shocking enough for the invitees, Reddy was soon heard crooning some Telugu folk songs (written to promote the metro rail) in his not-so-melodious voice leaving the gathering to wonder just what the meet was all about. The pool side party got even more colourful with the L&T CEO joining in, not to speak about the progress of the transport project, but render a peppy English number for his audience. That the duos’ show didn’t go down well with many was evident from the disgusted look on the faces of guests who were seen cursing themselves for landing up for the alleged conference. Some others, however, found solace in the delicious spread served up hot and spicy! “ (
Note: NVS Reddy is the MD of HMR and V.B. Gadgil CEO and MD of L&T Metro Rail.)

No wonder, one reporter was probably so much impressed with the drinks and dinner that he likened the metro pillars with “beautiful girls playing under the moonlight” in a Telugu daily. Now the L&T is making promotional films to project an image for the metro. It is inviting students, executives, senior citizens, housewives, and others to become Brand Ambassadors for Hyderabad Metro Rail. It is ‘your chance to become a celebrity’, says half-page advts in the local news papers in early January.

It may be noted that the Hyd metro construction is going on in full swing in two stretches of 8km and 12km where the roads are already very wide. The citizens will start experiencing the traffic nightmares when the construction enters beyond these stretches and when hundreds of shops will have to be demolished. That will take some more time before which the authorities are trying to create and promote graphically designed images for the metro.
Probably, more comical shows may follow!
- Dr. C. Ramachandraiah

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hyderabad Metro - to be the Ugliest in India?

Hyderabad Metro to be the Ugliest in India By Dr C. Ramachandraiah.
As it is, an elevated corridor itself makes the streets ugly in the thickly built core areas with the corridors at heights of 40-70 feet. Now, imagine if the corridors at such heights have overhead electric cables to run the metro rails (like the normal Indian Railways). What happened to the tall claims of the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) and L&T officials that this metro will be the most advanced in India? The story of HMR getting more bizarre as the time passes! 

The latest in the metro rail technology is to supply electricity through a Third Rail that runs between the two tracks. The moving train derives power from this Third  Rail. The Delhi metro rail has opted for it between Delhi and Gurgaon. The Bangalore metro rail too is operating on the Third Rail technology.  Further, this system costs over 25 % less than the traditional AC traction system. Then what prevents them from adopting it in Hyderabad? How can they claim this metro to be eco-friendly? If not adopted, then what is the latest about this metro when they are adopting outdated technology? Strangely, they are citing the lack of engineers and safety of passengers as reasons. Both reasons appear false.

Imagine the streets of Hyderabad and the three corridors criss-crossing the city over the flyovers and railway lines. At three places, the metro corridors themselves have to cross over each other (Ameerpet, Patny and Kothi). Elevated corridors passing over the electric lines above another corridor! At four places over the flyovers (Greenlands, Punjagutta, Nalgonda cross roads, HiTec city). At eight places or so, they have to cross railway bridges, the prominent one being at Malakpet.

Imagine at what heights will the electric lines be? And in the thickly built streets, is it not dangerous for the residences abutting the corridors (at 30 ft away) from those electric cables? Doesn’t this indicate that Hyd metro will be the ugliest metro in India? Isn’t it also true that the concerned officials have been hoodwinking the public about its socalled ‘state of the art’ technology?

We have been arguing from the beginning that this metro is being built on lies and false claims. We assure you again that we will prove right in the coming period also.

Read more on this in the TOI news item: