With no mechanism to implement the new Land Acquisition Ordinance, the Delhi Metro, in its Phase III project, is running behind schedule for the first time since its inception. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has had to reach out to private owners of land to settle acquisition — one of the key reasons for missing its 2016 deadline.
While the DMRC grapples with completely new technology in its rolling stock and signalling systems, the infrastructure body has found itself caught in a legal wrangle over land acquisition.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Delhi Metro Managing Director Mangu Singh said, “I am not sure how many bodies have managed to acquire land following the new Land Acquisition Ordinance. Though there are new rules, there is no machinery in place to implement it. To get around it, we had to negotiate land deals directly with private owners and that is how we acquired several plots for the upcoming Phase III project.”
“It is not true that we never missed deadlines… or got delayed. There were some such instances in Phase II but very few,” he added.
Singh said though 98 per cent of the civil work on the upcoming 190-km stretch of Metro network has been completed, the entire network is likely to be commissioned only by mid-2017, as trials on the new rolling stock and signalling system are set to take much longer than they did in previous phases of Delhi Metro.
“The amendment in the Metro Act has made norms for procedures and approvals from the Railways more stringent. That apart, while it is a great thing that we have the world’s latest technology when it comes to rolling stock and the signalling system, the trials on these will take much longer than before,” explained Singh.
“Earlier, once the civil work was completed, we could conduct train trials for about 15 days and commission the line soon after. But now, since the technology is so different, we will need months for trials. For example, we initiated trials a few days ago in the stretch between Kalkaji and Kalindi Kunj. Had we been using the previous technology, we would have opened the line to the public by now. That is not happening now,” he said.
According to its detailed project report (DPR) for Phase III, Delhi Metro had a target of commissioning the entire network by the end of 2016, which it is set to overshoot.
“At the time of preparing the DPR, we had no idea of the advancements in technology and there was no way of foreseeing that it would take longer for the trials. For Phase IV too, we might set ourselves a target of five years for completion, but there is no way to predict whether it will take longer due to land acquisition…,” underlined Singh.