The country's first fully privately financed Rapid metro system in Gurugram is facing closure from Monday due to severe financial shortage. The project was completely financed by beleaguered Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), which has been suffering losses for a while now.
A spokesperson of the IL&FS was quoted as saying by IANS that since the company is staring at a financial crisis, it will be unable to operate the metro any further. "We have written to the Haryana government that the company could not run the service from September 9. We have urged it for takeover and are waiting for the reply," said the spokesperson.
However, the Haryana government may face legal issues before taking over Gurugram's rapid metro. CEO of Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) V Uma Shankar said that the matter is yet to be resolved in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and before that, it would be impossible for them to takeover Rapid metro.
"Until the NCLT gives any decision, there is no scope for the GMDA to take over the Metro," Shankar said.
The rapid metro was built by IL&FS Infrastructure in two phases. The first phase of 5.1 km elevated track connected National Highway No 8 at Shankar Chowk to Sikandarpur DMRC station. Phase I covered six stations at a cost of Rs 1,450 crore, and the service was thrown open for public in November 2013.
The idea of Rapid metro was devised with the understanding that office-goers from Delhi to the cyber-city will interchange at Sikandarpur and use the rapid metro. But the plan was not successful as many of the companies in cyber-city provide cab services to their employees.
Moreover, the high fare of the rapid metro system has also been one of the major reasons for its unpopularity. Rajiv Deshpande, working as an account officer at an MNC in cyber city argued, "I take Delhi Metro to come from Hauz Khas and inter-change at Sikandarpur to go to the Gateway Tower rapid metro station (NH8). But the high fare of Rapid metro pinches me and it's not included in the DMRC smart card either. The rapid metro charges Rs 35 for just 2-3 km."
As per an estimate, around 2,00,000 office-goers come to the cyber city for their professional duties. One of the officials said, "We had expected 40-50 percent of them to take the rapid metro. But the footfall didn't exceed 15,000 a day." Even after the second phase was thrown open to the public, the passenger numbers still did not increase, which eventually affected the finances of the company.