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The trial run of the Uttar Pradesh government's much publicised Lucknow Metro was flagged off on Thursday by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav even as BSP chief Mayawati alleged the project was completed in haste to gain cheap popularity ahead of polls.
The function was held at Transport Nagar depot for the trial run up to Charbagh railway station, a distance of 8.5 km.
Addressing the gathering, Akhilesh said it was a challenge to start the project on time, and added that adding that they have "set an example before the country".
"Metro was not in our manifesto but we initiated the project. The work for the same has also been started in Ghaziabad, between Greater Noida and Noida, and also in Kanpur. If we come to power again, we will start work in Varanasi too," he said.
Asserting that the ruling Samajwadi Party did not play politics on the issue of development, Akhilesh said his government gave land for the establishment of AIIMS in Raebareli and in Gorakhpur as well so that people could avail the best medical facilities.
"We don't believe in a blame game. We are for development and support every move initiated for it," he said.
The trial run, however, evoked strong criticism from BSP supremo Mayawati, who said it was a decision taken in haste by the ruling SP, "as it knew very well that it would not return to power" in the upcoming UP Assembly elections.
"It was done in haste to gain cheap popularity and smacks of 'bachkanizid' (childish stubbornness) of the chief minister," she said.
SP supremo Mulayam said he was glad the project was completed in a timely fashion.
"When I was asked to lay foundation for the project, I wanted to know how much time it will take and refused when I was told it will take four years. Them they said it will be completed in three years, but I again declined. When I was told it will be completed in 2 years, I agreed," he said.
Terming it as "historic day", Mulayam said he would be happy if metro will also be started in Varanasi and appealed to people to vote for SP so that it could form government again to resume developmental work.
"The work done in UP during present SP regime are historic and have set an example before the country. UP's work is being appreciated everywhere," he said.
"We have done good work but we don't discuss it," Mulayam said, asking party workers to propagate it.
The entire 23-km long North-South corridor will have 21 stations including eight elevated ones, and the estimated cost of the project will be around Rs 6,800 crore.
The primary section (between Transport Nagar to Charbagh) would be open for public on March 26 next year after three months of rigorous trial.
At the function, SP state president Shivpal Yadav was also present.
LMRC, a special purpose vehicle, was registered under the Companies Act by the state government in 2013 to execute the metro-rail project in city.
Padma Vibhushan E Sreedharan, who has successfully handled many mega projects in country, like Konkan railway and Delhi metro, is principal advisor of LMRC.