The Centre has directed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to seek assistance from the AAP government in order to repay loans taken from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with the public transporter grappling with a financial crunch due to a freeze on its earnings. Metro services in the capital have remained suspended since March 22, leading to mounting losses. DMRC earns an average of Rs 9 crore only from ridership during weekdays, when around 27 lakh people take the Metro.
The DMRC had earlier written to the Centre requesting it to defer payment of its loan installment for the year 2020-21. It owes JICA, which has so far granted Rs 35,198 crore as loan to DMRC, Rs 1,242.83 crore in the current financial year, including principal and interest amounts.
However, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has written back, saying it needs to reach out to the state government for assistance. Similar letters have gone out to other Metro networks in the country, DMRC officials said.
The DMRC, which has suffered a loss of around Rs 1,500 crore due to suspension of services, is yet to write to the Delhi government. “We have received such a communication from the Ministry recently. The same is being examined and processed,” DMRC Executive Director Anuj Dayal said, when contacted.
While Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment, Transport Commissioner Manisha Saxena said she was not aware of the communication.
The development lands DMRC in a tricky situation as the Delhi government had firmly opposed the proposal to share Phase IV operational losses, if any, with the Centre and land cost on its own. The Supreme Court had to intervene in the matter, after which the state government agreed to bear operational losses, while it was decided that the two sides will share the land cost.
What has kept Metro worried is the fact that even after services resume, revenue from ticket sales will be low as DMRC will have to leave alternate seats empty and maintain a gap of at least 1 metre between passengers, if at all standing commuters are allowed.