Jaipur Metro in race against time
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Jaipur's skyline has been changing almost every morning, thanks to its upcoming Metro. Construction on a 9.7-km line that will connect the old city, popularly called Pink City, and several congested residential and commercial areas is on at breakneck speed to meet a June 2013 deadline. For a city that has an unreliable and rickety fleet of buses besides autos, the Metro promises to be the symbol of its aspired "world-class status".
The completion targets have left the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation hard-pressed. The agreement for the project was signed on August 5, 2010, with a target of June 2013, leaving the corporation with just 34 months for planning, survey, award of contracts, construction and commissioning of the line. Officials say work on this corridor is being completed in a record time of two years, the fastest construction of any Metro system after the one in Mecca.
Many in political circles call it the ruling Congress's trophy project for the upcoming polls in November 2013. The state government started out with funds it generated itself but by earlier this year it realised the monstrosity of the project — the cost of completing the upcoming line is Rs 2,023 crore — and wrote to the Centre for funds. Seeking to follow the Delhi Metro funding model (equity by the state and Central governments and a loan from JICA), Jaipur Metro is in talks with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, JICA and other financial organisations for a soft loan.
In the first phase, the Jaipur Metro will get an east-west corridor running from Mansarovar to Badi Chaupar. But considering the unlikelihood of completing it by the 2013 deadline, as tunnelling through the congested old city would have delayed the project, it was subdivided into phases I (a) and (b). The 9.7 km line will run on an elevated track from Mansarovar and stop short of entering the walled city and connect Chandpole, the only underground station of the line. Phase I (b) will be taken up thereafter, an underground stretch of 2.3 km linking Chhoti Chaupar and Badi Chaupar.