SC tells agencies to get work started on Metro’s Phase IV

The order came from a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta after the Delhi government informed that it had decided to give the green signal to the project.

Ending the impasse over the Delhi Metro Phase IV, the Supreme Court Friday ordered that work on the project be started forthwith.

The order came from a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta after the Delhi government informed that it had decided to give the green signal to the project.

This was conveyed to the bench by senior advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in matters related to prevention of pollution. The Delhi government counsel said differences with the Centre over the sharing of land cost and taxes still had to be sorted.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni submitted that financial pattern for the Phase IV project will be the same as what was adopted in the previous phases. He added that this was replicated for Metros in cities like Bhopal, Indore, Kanpur, Patna and Agra.

As per the Central policy, the State has to bear the cost of land for such projects.

But the AAP government wants the Centre to share 50% of the land cost and also bear half the burden when it comes to payment of taxes.

Singh suggested fixing a date to sort out the differences between Delhi government and the Centre. The court agreed to this and directed that this can be done on July 19.

The proposed Phase IV consists of six corridors — Aerocity to Tughlakabad, Inderlok to Indraprastha, Lajpat Nagar to Saket G Block, Mukundpur to Maujpur, Janakpuri West to R K Ashram and Rithala to Bawana and Narela.

The project is estimated to cost around Rs 45,000 crore and will have 37.01 km below ground and about 66.92 km elevated tracks.

The Supreme Court mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had recently filed a report in the top court wherein it referred to the impasse over the project due to differences between the Delhi government and Centre.

The EPCA report was categoric on the benefits of the project. Phase IV, it said, “will add significantly to the public transport infrastructure in the city. This, combined with buses and last-mile connectivity (pedestrian and other facilities), would greatly improve the public transport network in the city and provide options for car-free travel”.

The report termed the project as “critical as it will add another 104 km to the network” and added that “it is designed to join the current network and will densify it and make the system more viable and attractive to commuters”.

Gahlot says will comply, but some issues unresolved

Over three months after it issued a stop work order, pending resolution of a few contentious clauses, the Delhi government Friday said that it will let DMRC start work on its Phase IV project.

But state Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot added that the government will not go back on its demands regarding sharing of land and tax costs for the project, and also asked the Centre to “clear remaining three corridors”.

“Delhi government undertakes to let DMRC start the work but Centre should clear remaining 3 corridors. As far as the issue of land cost and other items Delhi is concerned with, the government has filed an affidavit in the court and requested it to adjudicate or settle these issues… Centre should clear the remaining three corridors. Land cost, etc will have to be shared. We have mentioned these points in our affidavit (to the SC),” Gahlot said.

On April 10, the Transport Department had directed the DMRC not to launch work on Phase IV until the Centre revised its approval to the project in tune with the one cleared by the Delhi government. It had said that there can be no change in the overall cost of the project and its share should remain same as per the approval accorded by the Delhi Cabinet in December, 2018.

Gahlot also told The Indian Express that the Delhi government has not accepted any of the conditions put up by the Centre under the Metro Rail Policy, 2017.

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