Centre approves new Metro policy, focus on public-private partnership in projects


Private investment and other forms of financing for metro projects have been made mandatory to meet the huge resource demand.

Union Cabinet today approved a new metro rail policy for expanding the metro network across various cities in the country. Taking note of substantial social, economic and environmental gains of Metro projects, the policy has stipulated a shift from the present "Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8 percent" to "Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14 percent" for approving Metro projects, in line with global practices.

The new guidelines also say Metro rail projects should be proposed only after assessing other mass transit solutions such as BRT (bus rapid transport), LRT (light rail transit) and monorail to find out which is most cost effective.

· Now, metro projects with a total length of 370 kms are operational in 8 cities including Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30 kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur-9.00 kms and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km). Some level of private participation in the operation and maintenance of the metro system will be mandatory for all projects that take funds from the Centre.

Urban Development Ministry Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra, who was also present at the briefing, said the new policy had several features including a "system approach and no ad hoc sanction". It seeks to provide necessary last mile connectivity through feeder services, and Non Motorised Transport infrastructure.

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State governments are empowered to constitute permanent authorities for revision of fares from time to time, BloombergQuint quoted the metro rail policy. States are also required to commit to accord all required permissions and approvals.

States can also take up Metro rail projects on their own and opt for central assistance of one-tenth of the project cost without worrying about the Centre's involvement in their execution.

For rigorous assessment of new metro proposals, the policy has suggested independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the government - like the Institute of Urban Transport and other such centres of excellence - whose capacities would be augmented as required.

The policy offers three options to states for availing central assistance.

· It calls for greater private participation and innovative financing through transit oriented development (TOD).

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