By Nivedita Mukherjee
With operations at Delhi Metro coming to a standstill in the wake of the lockdown, work has also come to a halt for the crucial Phase IV of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. This phase, with a sanctioned cost of Rs 24,949 crore, is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation (JICA), which funded the previous three phases as well.
Activity has stopped in Phase IV of the DMRC, which, in the run-up to the suspension of services, witnessed some measured progress in approving priority corridors, awarding of contracts and commencement of construction work. Three priority corridors in Phase IV have been sanctioned with a total length of 61.68 km, comprising both underground and elevated stretches of 22.35 km and 39.32 km, respectively. These are: Aerocity-Tughlakabad with underground length of 14.61 km and elevated length of 5.5 km having 15 stations; Janakpuri West-RK Ashram Marg with underground length of 7.74 km and elevated length of 21.18 km having 22 stations; and the Mukundpur-Maujpur stretch with an elevated length of 12.55 km with 8 stations.
The first civil contract of the Phase IV project was awarded in December 2019 and the DMRC started preliminary construction work from Haiderpur Badli Mor on the Janakpuri West–RK Ashram Marg corridor. Work was expected to be completed in 30 months. However, this could be a longer haul given the massive disruption underway because of the Covid-19.
"Three corridors have been sanctioned so far. We have started floating civil tenders for these corridors and awarded two or three contracts, the rest are in the pipeline. Construction has already started wherever the contracts have been awarded but at the moment because of this corona crisis, work has stopped," said Anuj Dayal, executive director, corporate communications, DMRC.
Officials at the Ministry of Urban Development said a metro project has a long gestation period with completion usually stretched over at least a 5-year period. So, it would be premature at the moment to make any assumption. Besides, the experience of working with JICA has been a good one and has ensured timely completion of all projects till date despite hiccups.
Delhi Metro has, however, been struggling to complete Phase III which commenced in 2011. While substantial progress has been made in Phase III, rehabilitation issues have held up work in a small section, which was scheduled for completion in October 2019. This work will now be completed in September 2020, according to sources in the Ministry of Urban Development.
The Phase 1 and Phase II witnessed successful closures within the stipulated time period. The Japan International Agency poured in Rs 36,067 crore as loan commitment out of the estimated project cost of Rs 85,136 crore in the first three phases.
With the health pandemic continuing a strong run globally and in India, curtailing international travel in the process, delay in the project looks inevitable. In normal circumstances, a preparatory mission comprising experts appointed by JICA would be in India to review the detailed project report prepared by the DMRC.
This may have to wait for a more conducive time. Apart from these sanctioned projects, there are three more proposed corridors in Phase IV which have not yet been approved, namely, Lajpat Nagar to Saket, Indralok to Indraprastha and Rithala to Narela, measuring approximately 43 km.