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Union Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri today rejected Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's offer to take over the DMRC, while suggesting that the city government may explore taking up the operations of its proposed phase IV as a "test case".
Puri also dismissed Kejriwal's suggestion that the Centre and Delhi government share the operational expenses of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), saying it would be a violation of the existing policy governing financing of metro projects.
"While I appreciate your confidence, enthusiasm and keenness to take on more responsibility, I am constrained to point out that this again is also not in line with existing policy.
"The Policy in respect of 50:50 joint venture metro projects as is the case of DMRC, does not envisage metro operations either by the state or central governments. It is precisely for this reason that Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) have been created and are meant to do so," Puri wrote in a letter to Kejriwal.
Puri also dismissed Kejriwal's claim that the DMRC's efficiency is "below par", saying the its quality standards are comparable with the best in the world and it is one of the success stories of India.
Yesterday, in a letter to Puri, Kejriwal had offered to take over the DMRC to make it more efficient and said his government was ready to provide half the funds needed to meet the gap in its finances for three months.
Puri said Kejriwal's suggestion that the Union government share the operational expenses of DMRC alongwith the Delhi Government is against the extant policy on financing of metro rail projects.
"Under this policy, the contribution of the Central Government is limited to half of the equity in respect of 50 : 50 Joint Venture Metro Projects, which is applicable to DMRC.
"Besides violation of this policy, your suggestion has wider financial implications for such projects which are already operational in good number with more in the offing. Central Government again cannot be seen violating its own policies unmindful of the consequences," he stated.
The Union minister went on to suggest that the new Metro Rail Policy enables the states to propose, finance and execute metro projects giving complete operational autonomy, with a reminder on the poor financial health of the Delhi Transport Corporation, which is under the city government.
"In view of your keenness to do so, I suggest that the Delhi Metro Phase-IV, which has already been delayed by about two and a half years, depriving about 40 lakh people of the national capital of the benefit of metro services, may be taken up for such autonomous execution and operation by the Delhi Government as a test case.
"I am sure you will be guided by the experience of DTC before venturing into the same. My best wishes be with you in case you are ready to do so," he said.