Can Pune really afford to have a Metro?
The latest addition, amongst numerous other reports on the Metro, includes the Lohia Committee Report.
Since Metro is proposed in cities of India, considerable thought seems to be now going into (albeit being very late) on ‘how to really finance this monster infrastructure?’
In 2009, a very rosy picture was placed in front of the urban citizens that this glamorous, silver, shiny Metro will be adequately financed using state and Centre funds, supplemented only marginally by Local Municipal Corporation funds and ticket fares.
The Lohia Committee Report, as it reads today, seems like the government is ready to do a backflip on this promise.
The report begins by saying that the financial burden incurred by a Metro is not justified for availing high international loans as huge amounts will be spent in servicing the interest on these loans. Further, the state and the Centre has limited capacity to provide grants to such infrastructure development. On the other hand, the report continues that, urban mobility can only be addressed by proposals like a Metro, which I feel is a fallacy. Thus, the report urges the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to look at ‘innovative’ mechanisms to finance the Metro.
Some of the suggestions include raising FSI, levying cess on petrol in cities, toll charges while entering the city, high parking charges etc.
After reading the report, understanding the Metro routes and related changes in FSI and estimating the implications on the lives of urban Indians, the whole exercise of the Metro itself seems like a losing proposition. And I fail to understand who is being obstinate enough to yet push its execution in cities like Pune and Nagpur.
When currently, the entire nation is reeling under inflation, rising costs of living, does it make sense to add massive infrastructure that will cause huge amounts of debt? Wouldn’t these debts, indirectly be serviced by charging citizens taxes, tolls and cess? Is it really the right time to add to the financial burden of the ‘aam aadmi’?
Read the full story on http://www.dnaindia.com/pune/analysis-can-pune-really-afford-to-have-a-metro-1963136