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.