As Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu Thursday announced the revival of the capital’s Ring Rail — which has been lying underutilised for many years — in the Railway Budget, Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai appreciated the move.
While stating that the revival will give a major boost to public transport infrastructure, Rai said the only problem will be last-mile connectivity to most stations. “Commuters will have to travel at least a kilometre to reach the stations. We will take time from the Union minister again. A joint action committee will be formed and last-mile connectivity will be improved. Trains and stations infrastructure will be improved as well,” added Rai.
The transport minister said he had met Prabhu on December 11 and put forward the proposal to revive the Ring Rail. “We said if the Centre could revive it, then a big infrastructure (system) would be put to use. There are 20 railway stations on the stretch spread across 35 km. It starts from Hazrat Nizamuddin and ends at Pragati Maidan,” added Rai.
Rai said he had also written to the Union minister on reviving the network. “After (the first phase of) odd-even ended, I wrote to him on the issue on January 21. On February 2, he wrote back. Today, in the Budget speech, the Union minister announced he would develop the ring railway. I want to thank him on behalf of Delhi’s residents.”
The Delhi BJP too has welcomed the announcement to revive the ring railway. Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay said, “We express gratitude to the railway minister for taking care of the development of Delhi’s ring railway as this will help in making the transport system smooth. The development of the ring rail will also help in easing traffic on roads,” said Upadhyay.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet has also decided to give a push to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to finish Phase III of the Metro network. To do so, the Cabinet has decided to pay bills to the DMRC in advance.
“There is a cumbersome process of reimbursement to the Metro. First, the DMRC’s expenditure is submitted to us. We then reimburse it after they submit their VAT bills. There was a 2010 proposal (from the Metro). After the VAT was deposited, it was cleared in 2014. Rather than post-reimbursement, we will give an advance. For three years, starting from 2015, the government will give the DMRC Rs 1,546 crore in the form of a loan,” added the minister.
The DMRC had requested that the estimated VAT payable by it for Phase-III be treated as “Interest Free Subordinate Debt long-term loan”, said a government source.
The government also said Phase-III was approved by an Empowered Group of Ministers on August 9, 2011 and it was decided that state taxes will be reimbursed by the Delhi government.
“The work for Phase-III started in 2011-12 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. It will include Najafgarh, Shiv Vihar and the Delhi portion of Bahadurgarh extensions,” added the minister.