The much-delayed Pune Metro rail project finally got the green signal from the central government on Wednesday. The proposal, approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Monday, was placed before the Cabinet, which apparently wasted no time in giving its approval for the project.
Pune MP Anil Shirole, who had been following up on the issue with the state government as well as the central government, told The Indian Express from New Delhi, “The Pune Metro project has received the final approval from the Union cabinet. Now, the ground breaking ceremony for the project will be held soon.”
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Shirole apparently got confirmation of the approval from Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar. “He confirmed that the project has been given a final go-ahead,” said Shirole.
The BJP MP claimed that approval for the project had been delayed for years as the previous regime took its own time to decide on the issue. “After BJP governments took charge, first at the Centre and then in the state, things picked up speed. Both the state government and central government were keen on getting the project started as soon as possible,” said Shirole.
Shirole said he was hopeful that Pune Metro would be completed at a much faster pace than other metro projects in the country.
The Pune Metro project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work, as per the Detailed Project Report, said civic officials.
District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat said he was happy that their efforts to get the project approved had yielded result. “The state government had appointed a committee under me to push for the Pune Metro project and we submitted the report without any delay,” he said.
Confirming the news, Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar said, “The Union cabinet has approved the Pune Metro rail project. It would be now discussed in the state cabinet to plan its implementation”. He added that the “focus” of the project would be on the commuters.
However, Pune Mayor Prashant Jagtap said the project had been approved by the BJP-led central government, with an eye on the forthcoming civic elections.
In June 2015, the state government had approved changes in the route of Pune Metro, which is likely to comprise
both underground as well as elevated tracks.
In August, the Pune Municipal Corporation had obtained clearance from the Railway Ministry for the project. The project has received support from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which have approved a Rs 6,325 crore loan for it.
The Pune Metro project was placed before the PMO on Monday evening after the Public Investment Board (PIB) of the Union Finance Ministry gave its go-ahead in October.
Civic officials said the revised estimated project cost of the two Metro routes is Rs 11,420 crore. As much as 60 per cent of the amount will be raised through loans, and 13.5 per cent each will be given by the Union and state governments. The rest of the funds will come from local civic bodies. The project will be implemented by the Pune Metro Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO).
Meanwhile, a controversy has erupted over which leader will perform the ground breaking ceremony of Pune Metro project. At a meeting of leaders of political parties in the PMC general body meeting held on Wednesday, it was decided that NCP chief Sharad Pawar will perform the ceremony. However, the BJP has already declared that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do so. The ceremony is scheduled to be held on December 24, when the Prime Minister is slated to visit Pune.
“We are not opposed to the Prime Minister performing the ground breaking ceremony of Pune Metro, but the decision regarding Pawar performing the ‘bhoomi pujan’ has been taken by a majority vote,” said the mayor.