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New high-power panel to hasten metro projects in Bengaluru

Although a HPC has existed since 2014, it did not have the specific mandate to oversee the metro.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 19, 2019, 10.37 AM IST
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BCCL
1
Namma Metro rail work phase 2.
BENGALURU: The state government has constituted a new high-power committee (HPC) of 10 IAS officers to hasten the construction of metro projects in the city. The committee will meet for the first time on June 21.

Although a HPC has existed since 2014, it did not have the specific mandate to oversee the metro. The new HPC will oversee phase II, phase II-A (KR Puram-Central Silk Board) and phase II-B (airport link) metro projects, which were approved between 2012 and 2019.

The phase II project — costing over Rs 26,000 crore — was scheduled for completion by 2020-21 but it is seeing several hurdles, primarily related to land acquisition and shifting of utilities.

“The process of getting government land from different departments has been simplified. The committee also has the scope of reviewing the metro project at a micro level,” said Ajay Seth, managing director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation.

The new HPC, which was accorded administrative approval towards the end of May, will be headed by the chief secretary. The chief secretary also holds fortnightly meetings with different agencies to discuss issues and projects pertaining to Bengaluru.

Ten IAS officers from various agencies, including the urban development department, finance, revenue, BBMP and the directorate of urban land transport (DULT), will be part of the committee. They are likely to meet once a month.

The HPC will have the mandate to sort out all issues related to metro projects, including the transfer of land, shifting of utilities and structures in the project alignment, rehabilitation of affected persons, coordinating with departments for smooth, efficient and expeditious shifting of various utilities simultaneously in one go and multimodal integration.

Completing the project on time has never been a forte of BMRCL ever since it was given the responsibility to construct the 42-km phase

1. While the first phase was delayed by nearly four years, the phase II is set to miss the 2021 deadline. Officials say it’s difficult to meet the target as the metro is being built in a living city and meeting the deadline requires cooperation from so many agencies. “Be it land acquisition, shifting of utilities or even construction, we are always dependent on external factors. We, at times, have little say in the progress unless the government backs us in clearing hurdles,” a senior official said.

FREE LAND
The Namma Metro is entitled to get land from different government departments, free of cost. “As the state government itself has to fund the cost of lands, no purpose will be served if the BMRCL is asked to pay the cost of the government land,” a government order, dated May 25, said.
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