With the Lucknow Metro Rail project yet to get clearance from Union Ministry of Finance’s Public Investment Board (PIB), the state government has decided to complete the first stretch of the work with its own resources in order to meet the deadline of December next year — UP will go to polls in 2017.
Officials said the government will spend around Rs 2,000 crore from the state exchequer to complete the 8.3-km priority section stretch from Transport Nagar to Charbagh. This Rs 2,000 crore will be a part of the state’s share of the total project cost — worth Rs 6,880 crore — for the entire North-South corridor from Amausi to Munshipulia.
The decision is likely to mount pressure on the Centre to ensure that PIB clearance is issued at the earliest to ensure that UP cannot blame the Union government for any delay in the implementation of the project.
The Metro project is being projected as the lifeline Lucknow — Lok Sabha constituency of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. While the Centre has to bear 20 per cent of the total project cost, UP will pay around 27 per cent while the rest of the funding will come in the form of loans from various agencies.
However, neither the Centre can release its share, nor the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) — the project’s executing agency — could seek loan until it has been approved by PIB.
The PIB, for this project, has been formed under the chairmanship of Secretary (Expenditure) of Union Ministry of Finance.
The first meeting of PIB for the project was held in August last year. The Centre had allocated Rs 50 crore for the project in the Budget for 2014-15. But that fund could not be released in the absence of the PIB’s clearance. In the current financial year, Centre allocated Rs 173 crore but even that is awaiting PIB’s clearance. The next meeting of the Board is scheduled on August 6 in Delhi and the state government officials are expecting to get the clearance then.
However, sources said that even after the PIB’s clearance, it will take another two to three months for the state to actually get the Centre’s share of funds and loan from other agencies.
“We are hopeful to the get PIB nod in the next meeting,” said Kumar Keshav, Managing Director of LMRC. Keshav added that the state government has given a commitment to complete the first 8.3-km stretch of the project from its own resources so that a trial run could begin by December 2016.
Construction work on the first stretch of the project had started in September 2014. The state government had provided Rs 20 crore for the project in 2013-14, Rs 90 core in 2014-15 and Rs 425 crore is required in the current financial year.
Out of the assured Rs 425 crore, LMRC has so far reportedly received Rs 100 crore from the UP government. Transfer of the remaining fund from agencies such as UP Housing and Development Board, Lucknow Development Authority and UPSIDC is in the process.