M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan inaugurates underground section of
Delhi Metro
Tribune News Service

Delhi Metro trains run underground on Sunday. The underground metro was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday.
Delhi Metro trains run underground on Sunday. The underground metro was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, December 19
“Urban public transport is a national priority”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh observed after inaugurating the first underground section of the Delhi Metro this morning. “Our government proposes to launch a National Urban Renewal Mission and we will ensure that public transport and public amenities for the people, particularly the weaker sections, receive special attention in this plan”, he told the nation.

Pointing out that he was impressed by the quality of infrastructure built by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the Prime Minister said other cities should learn from the experience and example of the DMRC. “We hope we can replicate this model elsewhere,” Mr Manmohan Singh said. The city, he said, would meet the challenge to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and hopefully the Olympics in 2016.

The four-kilometre-long corridor between Delhi University and Kashmere Gate has four stations: Delhi University, Delhi Assembly, Civil Lines and Kashmere Gate. The underground section will be open to the public at 6 a.m. tomorrow. The Kashmere Gate-Delhi University section, slated for completion in June 2005, was completed seven months ahead of schedule and is expected to attract 20,000 commuters per day.

The Prime Minister and his wife, Ms Gursharan Kaur, travelled in the train before inaugurating the service. “As a member of a faculty of Delhi University, I commuted by public transport to work. At that time Delhi was not as big and crowded ... it was easier for me and my family to commute by public transport,” he said, recalling the days he used to travel by bus to Delhi University.

Appreciating the efforts of the DMRC, the Prime Minister said: “The time has come for all of us to think big and think into the future. The 21st century will be the century of Asia and without doubt the century of India, but to hasten this journey, we have to create the required social and economic infrastructure. Our government is committed to this urgent task,” Mr Manmohan Singh said.

The managing director of DMRC, Mr E. Sreedharan, said it would take less than seven minutes to travel between the two stations as against at least 30 minutes by road. The Metro was already operating trains between Shahdara in East Delhi and Rithala in the West on an elevated track and Kashmere Gate would serve as the inter-change between overground and underground tracks.

Mr Sreedharan said the underground section was likely to be extended to the Central Secretariat by June next year.

The Metro would conduct around 293 to-and-fro trips per day along the four-kilometre underground stretch with a train every six minutes during peak hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and a train every 10 minutes in lean hours — 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in turn, said the Metro would reduce congestion on roads and also bring down the level of pollution in the city. “We have learnt a lot from the DMRC, its work ethics and decision-making process”, she said. Lieutenant-Governor B.L. Joshi highlighted that the construction had been undertaken in an eco-friendly manner and 10 trees had been planted for each one felled.

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