UP to have metros in 8 to 10 cities in the near future: Kumar Keshav
Uttar Pradesh has been thriving in terms of infrastructure development. The state government has allocated Rs 2,650 crore towards the completion of ongoing metro projects in Kanpur, Agra and the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project. Additionally, it has also allocated Rs 100 crore towards metro-rail projects proposed for Gorakhpur, Varanasi and other cities. Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation, elaborates on his experience at the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation towards successful completion of projects in the state.
What is the progress of mass rapid transport in the state?
Uttar Pradesh has an operational metro in five cities.
Uttar Pradesh has been thriving in terms of infrastructure development. The state government has allocated Rs 2,650 crore towards the completion of ongoing metro projects in Kanpur, Agra and the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project. Additionally, it has also allocated Rs 100 crore towards metro-rail projects proposed for Gorakhpur, Varanasi and other cities. Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation, elaborates on his experience at the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation towards successful completion of projects in the state. What is the progress of mass rapid transport in the state? Uttar Pradesh has an operational metro in five cities. We did Lucknow; the Ghaziabad and Noida is by Delhi Metro; Greater Noida is a separate metro already in operation; and the Kanpur Metro at 9 km is a recent start on December 28, 2021. We completed it in just two years and one-and-a half months and the Prime Minister flagged off the first train, in which he travelled as well. These five metros are already in operation in Uttar Pradesh. We are also working on the Agra Metro, which consists of two corridors and a beautiful planed connecting all the historical places in Agra. We have a station at Taj Mahal. By 2024, this will run as a priority corridor. It is partly underground and partly elevated, but it has to be done beautifully. In addition, we have the Gorakhpur metro which is Metrolite or light rail transit and will hopefully be the first Metrolite project to be approved in India. The state cabinet and the Public Investment Board (PIB) chaired by the secretary finance and expenditure in New Delhi had already approved the first phase of the project. The Rs 2,670 crore project will have 14 elevated stations on a 15.14 km stretch in the first phase, which covers Gorakhnath Mandir, Gorakhpur railway station, Gorakhpur University and the newly commissioned AIIMS, we are just waiting for approval from the Centre. Phase-2 of the Lucknow Metro is also in the works. Hence, Uttar Pradesh will have metros in nearly eight to 10 cities in the near future. Good public transport will be really beneficial to the development of these cities. What role has technology played in your projects? Technology is not a facilitator; it is the backbone. Project monitoring has been done with the best tools available in the market. The entire team works on one platform, interface management, otherwise it would be impossible. We have also brought in BIM technology. We have used 3D BIM and may move on to 5D depending on cost and time in the future. This is bringing in a lot of improvement in project design, designing the facilities interface between the different systems, and cable routings. These conflict points have been removed. Signalling is advanced, and we have used a communication-based train control system. We have also opted for an automatic fare collection system with smart cards and QR codes, so tokens are getting obsolete. How have you tackled problems of land acquisition? Land acquisition in the densely populated part of the city is crucial and difficult. Land is expensive. The other issue is utilities, because most are on the roads. These factors usually affect projects; so, we proactively meet the government for land acquisition. We have got the complete land acquisition sale on our metro project site in Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation. We have a subdivisional magistrate on board and issues are raised and solutions discussed at a high-level committee meeting every month. At many places, if not a complete handover, we have received working permission for the land. We have been particular in managing our own utilities like electricity cables. How do you get the best out of your contractors? It is the contractors who deliver the project – contractors, subcontractors, workmen in particular. We are only leading and funding the project. We do not consider them an outside agency. I work closely with them, tell them my requirements, what they can do, and understand their constraints. This helps contractors plan the work according to our requirements that helps us to facilitate them in delivering the solution. Please share your journey with us. My past eight years have been devoted to the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation and the metro-rail projects in Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra have been delivered. I feel satisfied in many respects, especially in our interaction with the government. It is important to have complete support from the government. The same goes for utility agencies, contractors and my people; vendors are different subsystem suppliers. First, we have to understand that it is our project and everybody is supporting us. I have never blamed my contractors for any work not being achieved. Everything cannot be fully achieved without support from each and every one involved. I always write to my contractors, interact with them about what they have done. This is the crux of my experience. You have set a great precedent with the rapid implementation of metros. What lies behind this success? The crux of the success of Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation lies in maintaining a proactive approach with the contractors. We start monitoring these projects from the design stage itself. Further, we see the deployment of resources by the contractors – system contracts, machineries, equipment and even vendors. We help them understand our requirements and we understand their constraints. It is a dynamic way of working as when we execute a project, a lot of technological changes happen.