December 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Delhi gets Metro
New Delhi, December 24
Joining the Prime Minister on the maiden run were Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and BJP Members of Parliament. Eight years after the Union Government first approved the project the Delhi Metro will begin ferrying passengers from tomorrow on the 8.3 km between Shahdara and Tis Hazari.
It is a boon for the Capital which is bursting at the seams. The Delhi Metro will replace the bus as the preferred mode of transport, ease the traffic on the roads, cause less pollution ... it is a historic occasion for Delhiites as their long-standing demand for a suitable transport has been finally met, the Prime Minister said.
The Delhi Metro, he went on to add, exemplified the spirit of international cooperation. The Government of Japan had financed the project to the tune of 56 per cent. The Japan Bankof International Co-operation had extended a soft loan of up to Rs 2,090 crore under its Official Development Assistance.
"The Delhi Metro marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan. South Korea too has rendered assistance to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in realising the dream of presenting to the Capital the state-of-art urban transport that will revolutionise the way Delhi moves," the Prime Minister noted.
When DMRC Chairman Madal Lal Khurana attributed the project to the BJP-led NDA government's initiative, Mrs Dikshit chose to dedicate it to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's vision of modern India. "We did everything we could to complete the project on time. It should not be politicised now," she added.
The bitter feud between the BJP and Congress over who gets how much credit for the Delhi Metro's successful run would eventually find a mention in the Prime Minister's address as he set out to put the record straight. The dream of Delhi Metro coming true, he was to say later, would not have been possible without the cooperation of either.
"If credit ought to go to any quarter it should be to the synergy between the Union Government and the Government of NCT, Delhi, that turned the dream of a state-of-art transport into reality, " Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani added, thus endorsing Prime Minister's views.
Union Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar echoed the Prime Minister's sentiments when he said the Delhi Metro had shown the way for the rest of the country to emulate. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, he said, had evinced interest in replicating the Delhi Metro model.
"Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu wants to have one for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. So does Bangalore. The Union Government is considering their proposals," he said, adding that the Union Government would come out with an urban transport policy in a year's time. The Group of Ministers chaired by Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has in the meantime approved the third line from Barakhamba Road to Dwarka. All three lines of phase I of the Delhi Metro project will become operational by September, 2005. An estimated 28 lakh passengers will travel by Metro when the 63-km-long network is ready in 2005.
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