The construction of the 38.2-km Metro railway in Maharashtra's Nagpur, which started in November last year, is gathering momentum, with both central and state governments assuring necessary financial and administrative support. The Rs 8,680-crore project is being developed on the Delhi Metro model. Besides, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) will mobilise a euro 630-million loan from the German government's KfW Development Bank and the French government's finance arm, AFD. In an interview with Sanjay Jog, NMRC managing director Brijesh Dixit explains how he plans to start the Metro by the end of 2019, and the slew of steps to make the operations viable and sustainable. Excerpts:
How do you plan to make the NMRC viable?
The NMRC has been created on the lines of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) model as a equal joint venture between the Centre and the state. It is not a PPP (public-private partnership) or BOT (build, operate and transfer) model.
The project cost is pegged at Rs 8,680 crore. The Centre and Maharashtra will finance 20 per cent each, while five per cent will come from the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) each.
Over a half of it or €630 million (Rs 4,521 crore) will come as debt from external agencies KfW, Germany, and AFD, France.
KfW has signed a €500 million loan. The agreement with AFD is likely to be inked by May. The loans will be at an interest rate of 0.6 per cent for 20 years with a five-year moratorium.
Our system design and business model are robust. So, I have no doubt about the viability and sustainability.
What are your traffic projections?
The NMRC is expecting about 350,000 riders per day of the total city population of 2.4 million and another million in the surrounding areas.
On a conservative estimate, 10 per cent of the population is expected to commute by the metro daily.
At present, the share of public transport in Nagpur city is just nine per cent. If the metro become available, people will latch on to it. Passengers will have an air-conditioned experience in a city where temperatures cross 45°C in summer.
And land acquisition?
Most of the land with right-of-way has been handed over to the NMRC and compensation issues are getting sorted. The compensation will be in the form of money and rehabilitation.
How do you plan to make the metro self-sustaining?
The NMRC is implementing the transit-oriented development model where real estate can be developed around stations. The Maharashtra government has already issued a notification in October 2015, allowing twice the floor space index for the constructions along the corridor up to 500 m. The income to be accrued from that will be shared by the NMRC and also the NMC and the NIT. Besides, the premium that will come from it will be another source of income.
This apart, one per cent increase in stamp duty on property transactions in the city is also proposed. This will ensure better financial viability of the project.
In addition, the NMRC will explore options of property development and sale of advertisement rights to mobilise additional income.
What are the other innovations that you will implement?
In order to contain the energy cost to make the metro operations environment-friendly and sustainable, the NMRC is integrating solar energy generation right from the project planning and design stage to meet its energy requirements to the tune of 65 per cent, which will make it the one of the "greenest" metros in the world.
All station rooftops, depots, boundary walls, depot shed rooftops and vacant ground spaces will be mounted with solar photovoltaic panels. In Phase-I, about 14 Mw solar power is proposed to be integrated which will rise to 36 Mw in future.
There is a unique double-decker model which is being proposed, wherein the elevated road planned on the national highway will be at the middle deck, the metro will be on the upper deck and the present road at the lower level.
How will the NMRC avoid cost and time overruns?
The Metro lines will be commissioned progressively, with the southern and western links expected to be completed and operational by June 2018 and September 2018, respectively. The remaining two links will be completed and the whole metro will be operational by March 2019.
The bidding process of rolling stock will be complete by June 2016 so that it takes a year to supply, by the middle of 2017. Thereafter, testing will be done.
We do not envisage any cost or time overruns. The NMRC has state-of-the art IT-based project management tools to visualise the hurdles coming in the way of construction much before they actually happen.
We will be able to have tight control over cost and time to complete the project within target.
How will the metro be interconnected with other modes of transport?
The NMRC has already firmed up a plan to integrate with other modes of transport to ensure seamless travel for metro commuters. We are taking care of the last- and first-mile connectivity so that commuters will be able to use multiple-transport or feeder services to commute.
What are your projections on the job creation?
The project will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities. The detailed project report says about 1,700 jobs will be created. The NMRC has also launched vendor development programme and 180 vendors have participated.
How will you ensure safety during construction and after commencement of services?
Safety is of paramount importance. The NMRC has already put in place a comprehensive safety policy and a special team. Safety drills are regularly conducted and the NMRC hopes that there won't be any safety issues.
Since you are under the Metro Act, 2002, the fares will be fixed by the Fare Fixation Committee. Will that be a contentious issue?
According to the provisions of the Metro Act, 2002, the Fare Fixation Committee will be formed. All the procedures will be followed with utmost transparency. However, fare fixation is still some time away.