“Guwahati Not Feasible For Metro Rail Project, Yet There Are Plans…” Says CM

The chief minister while inaugurating the Nilachal Flyover on Wednesday confidently claimed that the state government has already completed its homework on what to do up to 2030.
“Guwahati Not Feasible For Metro Rail Project, Yet There Are Plans…” Says CM
“Guwahati Not Feasible For Metro Rail Project, Yet There Are Plans…” Says CM

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated on Wednesday why the northeast's main metropolis, 'Guwahati,' is still waiting for Metro transport, despite various preparations.

While inaugurating the Nilachal Flyover here in Maligaon, CM Sarma said, “Many people question us on why the city doesn’t have a metro rail. This is because there is at least 3 km distance between two metro stations. If we want to lay track in Silpukhuri then one terminal will be on Dighalipukhuri and the other will be on Chandmari. Thus, this small place is not fit for a metro train. But, this upcoming 6-lane highway connecting Baihata Chariali, Narengi, Kuruwa via Jagiroad to Dispur will form a ring road. And after completion of the ring, the metro train will run above the ring. Metro trains will enter and exit Guwahati through the ring.”

Stating this, the chief minister confidently claimed that the state government has already completed its homework on what to do upto 2030.

Sharing his childhood memories, the chief minister added, “During my childhood, we used to hear that Guwahati is the Gateway of Northeast, but, I would like to say that Guwahati is not just the gateway of Northeast India, rather we are planning to make it ready for Gateway of Southeast Asia. That is, our dream is to touch the sky and we will do it.”

Earlier in the month of January 2016, Guwahati Metro Phase 1 project’s Feasibility Report and Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by Rail India Technical and Economic Service Limited (RITES). On February 26, 2016, this DPR and the formation of Guwahati Metro Rail Corporation Limited (GMRCL), to execute the project, were approved by Assam’s state government.

Thereafter in January 2017, the new government’s state cabinet reviewed the project and suggested modifying the DPR with additional lines connecting Dharapur with Guwahati Airport and North Guwahati with AIIMS in Phase 1 itself.

As of March 2020, RITES has been tasked with preparing a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) & Alternative Analysis (AA) Report for Guwahati. After the approval of these reports, Guwahati Metro’s DPR will be modified and finalized accordingly.

Guwahati Metro is a 61.40 km urban Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) with 4 lines and 54 stations proposed to be built in Guwahati, Assam.

As per Metro Rail News last update, Guwahati Metropolitan Development Department (GMDA) revealed that a new Metro Rail Policy was introduced by the Centre in 2017, which asked for a rigorous assessment of new metro proposals. States were required to adopt innovative mechanisms to mobilize resources for financing metro projects. The options for availing Central assistance include Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Central assistance under the Viability Gap Funding Scheme of the Ministry of Finance; grant by the Centre, under which 10% of the project cost would be given as a lump sum central assistance; and 50:50 equity sharing model between the Central and State governments. Under all these options, private participation, however, was mandatory.

The Feasibility Report for Guwahati Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) was completed by the RITES in March 2015, for a total corridor length of 203 km in three phases and a complete DPR (Phase-I) for a total length of 62.95 km in January 2016. The State Cabinet, on February 2, 2016, approved the DPR (Phase-I) for MRTS and the State-owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely Guwahati Metro Rail Corporation Limited, to carry forward the implementation of rail-based MRTS for Guwahati city.

DPR for Phase-I was prepared for a total length of 61.4 km. Phase-I would have 4 corridors:

Corridor-1: Dharapur– Narangi (Elevated) = 22.6 kms

Corridor-2: MG Road to Khanapara (Underground) = 10.0 kms

Corridor-3: Jalukbari to Khanapara (Elevated) = 19.4 kms

Corridor-4: ISBT to Paltan Bazar (Elevated) = 9.4 kms

The DPR was sent to the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) in May 2016. The MoUD advised the State government to resubmit the proposal along with an updated Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP).  The State Cabinet in January 2017, suggested some changes and asked GMDA to recast the DPR (Phase-I) for Rail-based MRTS. The Government also instructed the GMDA to prepare the DPR for additional metro corridors from Dharapur to Guwahati Airport and Jalukbari to North Guwahati.

Later, the Government of India adopted the Metro Rail Policy, 2017, and advised the states to submit MRTS proposals accordingly. As per the new policy, the project DPR required Alternative Analysis (AA). In the case of Guwahati, a CMP was also required. On approval of the Government of Assam, RITES was handed over the preparation work of the CMP and AA Report for Guwahati on a nomination basis, which is for the CMP at Rs 1.25 crores (excluding taxes) and AA reports at Rs 35.00 lakhs (excluding taxes). The timeline for CMP was 4 months and the AA report was 2 months.

The Principal Secretary of Guwahati Development Department (GDD) asked RITES during the review meeting of the presentation of the CMP's inception report in December 2018 whether a traffic impact study from the Assam State Capital Region Development Authority (ASCRDA) region should be included in the project's current scope and requested that RITES submit a proposal and estimate of the study's costs. The ASCRDA region spans five districts—Kamrup Metropolitan, Kamrup, Nalbari, Darrang, and Morigaon—and is roughly 6,100 square kilometres in size. RITES said that since the traffic study for the CMP is for the Guwahati Metro Region, the inclusion of the traffic impact study from the ASCRDA area can be done at a very reasonable rate and time.

RITES presented the final CMP and AA report in 2018, however the State government has yet to make a decision on the project's next steps.

It should also be noted that metro projects require significant capital investments and must be justified for a number of reasons.

The metro's viability must be determined from all angles. Social advantages, financial feasibility, city growth, commuting difficulties, and several other elements necessary for simple commuting via the metro system must be taken into account.

The GDD Department has had nearly six years to begin the project, but has not done so, rendering the Guwahati metro rail a faraway dream. It should be emphasised, nevertheless, that once Guwahati's population reaches 20 lakh, it is time to start planning for the city's metro system.

For the metro to operate in a hilly and beautiful place like Guwahati, it will take at least more 5 to 6 years. However, there is no question that the "Gateway to North-East India" merits a metro system.

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