The Phase-IV project of the cash-strapped Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has received a major boost with Japan International Cooperation Agency, which has funded its earlier projects through soft loans, agreeing to fund the expansion in principle, sources said.
“JICA has agreed for Phase-IV funding in principle but formalities are still in process at the government level to freeze it. As soon as the funding is finalised, a large number of tenders will be floated, which will bring a lot of pace to the ongoing construction work for the three corridors as it will be possible to work on different sections simultaneously,” a source said.
Sources said DMRC was relieved at the development as JICA’s funding was essential for Delhi Metro’s expansion plans. JICA had funded 60% of Phase-I, 54% of metro’s Phase-II and 51% of Phase-III projects. In Phase-IV, its share will be less than 50% and the amount will be around Rs 13,000 crore, they said.
DMRC is not in the pink of health financially due to the shutdown of services for 169 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety protocols after reopening having reduced its carrying capacity. As metro construction is highly capital intensive, the funding from JICA was crucial, but the pandemic put a spanner in the work.
The three approved corridors of Phase-IV, which will have 45 stations, are Aerocity-Tughlaqabad (20.2 km), Maujpur-Majlis Park (12.5 km) and Janakpuri West-RK Ashram corridor (28.9 km) where construction for the much-delayed project started first in December 2019.
Even as the construction gathered pace, the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 was announced last March. “As the work had just started, the process of applying for a soft loan from JICA was not fully completed. The funding agencies have this condition that you can’t start the bidding process unless the loan is signed, which meant too many tenders couldn’t be floated,” the source said.
That is why while work started on one section of the Janakpuri West-RK Ashram Marg corridor by December, DMRC couldn’t float tenders for all the corridors immediately as many of these had to wait for the loan to be “tied” and for the agreement with JICA.
“While construction work is on at all three corridors and we plan to open the smaller Maujpur-Majlis Park corridor by next year, now we can start the bidding process for many contracts for systems and major work like tunnelling,” the source said.
Although the total Phase-IV project comprises six corridors spanning around 104km that have been approved by Delhi government, only three priority corridors have been approved by the Centre till now.