New Delhi-based French Development Agency (AFD) has financed four metro projects in India: Kochi, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Pune. Rajnish Ahuja, Project Manager (Transport), AFD, shares more with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
Success of metro-rail in India
Metro-rail projects are coming up rapidly, which is explained by India's ongoing urban transition. We expect 500 million new urban dwellers by 2050: such growth is unprecedented in speed and scale. As more people move to cities, pressure on existing public transport systems—mainly public buses—increases, and the efficiency and quality of the service drops. Metros provide people with an efficient and comfortable alternative.
In Tier I and Tier-II cities, this public transport is especially relevant. AFD, the French development bank, has supported the metro in Kochi and Bengaluru, and is currently working with Maha-Metro on the Nagpur and Pune metros as well.
Metros in India have improved connectivity, increased accessibility for people living further from city centres, and reduced travel time. Recent drives to introduce technological innovations and promote integration with other modes of transport under the new Metro Rail Policy have further improved the quality of services proposed. With this and the growing demand for metro rail, it is safe to say metro-rail projects in India have been quite successful.
How can the sector benefit?
The success rate of PPPs in this sector is yet to be ascertained. Without a clear idea of what their potential return on investment (RoI) could be, fewer private companies are currently willing to engage in PPPs. The sector could also benefit from the development of more innovative financing patterns, including bringing in private partners on the operations phase. Finally, owing to the scale of these projects, it is absolutely vital that land and environment and social issues related to a project are assessed ahead of time. The importance of having a diligently prepared resettlement action plan cannot be overstated.
Importance of metro rail in India
As a country that is rapidly developing and a global leader in the implementation of the Paris Climate change agreement, India is conscious of its carbon emissions and air-quality challenges. The metro is one of the ways to reduce traffic congestion in cities. Also, as more people switch to the metro as the preferred mode of public transport, petrol and diesel consumption will also reduce. Ultimately, the metros aim to be a model mode of transport contributing to a low-carbon, climate-friendly future.