New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said the operational loss, if any, in the 104-km Phase IV of the Delhi Metro project would be borne by the Delhi government as it is a mode of conveyance in the national capital.
The Delhi government is bound to ensure that the financial health of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is maintained properly and no steps are taken that might result in losses, it said.
The top court, however, directed that the land cost for the project would be borne by the Centre and the Delhi government equally, in 50:50 ratio.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta asked the authorities concerned to ensure that no delay is caused in the Phase IV metro project and the total land cost of Rs 2,447.19 crore is released forthwith.
The bench directed both the Centre and the Delhi government to work out the modalities and release the amount of land cost within three weeks.
Reacting to the Delhi government's announcement of providing free rides for women in the Metro, the court asked the authorities why the government wanted to provide free rides for any segment of the society. “The Metro may not remain a viable venture if free sops are given,” the bench observed, asking the Delhi government to act with prudence.
Directing the government to make judicious use of public money, the court said, “Don't give these free sops."
Last month, the Delhi assembly had passed the government's supplementary demands for grants of Rs 290 crore for free travel for women passengers in buses and metro trains.
The top court had on July 29 granted time to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to clarify its stand on increasing financial contribution, as proposed by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in three priority corridors of the fourth phase of the Delhi Metro project.
The 103.94-km phase-IV of the metro will consist of six corridors -- Aerocity to Tughlakabad; Inderlok to Indraprastha; Lajpat Nagar to Saket G Block; Mukundpur to Maujpur; Janakpuri West to RK Ashram; and Rithala to Bawana and Narela.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) had on March 9 approved the 61.66 km, three priority corridors -- Aerocity to Tughlakabad, RK Ashram to Janakpuri (west), and Mukundpur to Maujpur -- at a cost of Rs 24,948.65 crore.
The EPCA had suggested that the DDA can be asked to give Rs 2,500 crore for the three priority corridors out of their agreed Rs 5,000 crore for six corridors of phase-IV.
The EPCA, in its report filed earlier in the apex court, had said that the total share of Delhi government in the three corridors of phase-IV of metro is around Rs 7,844.07 crore but the Delhi Cabinet in December 2018 approved only Rs 5,994.50 crore.
"Therefore, the difference in financial terms is at most Rs 1,800 crore, which constitutes some 7% of the total project cost of these three key corridors," the EPCA had said.
It had said that the DDA agreed to pay Rs 5,000 crore for the six corridors and "its contribution for the first three corridors could be increased to either partially or completely taking on the difference between the Delhi cabinet approved cost for the three corridors as against the final approved cost".
The apex court had on July 12 ordered that phase-IV of the project, which is estimated to add around 18.6 lakh riders per day, be implemented forthwith and construction work for it be started.
Of the 103.94 km to be constructed under phase-IV, 37.01 km will be underground while around 66.92 km will be elevated. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 46,845 crore.
As per DMRC, its operational network is 343 km with current average daily ridership of nearly 28 lakh.
The issue of public transport had cropped up before the court as it was hearing a matter relating to air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region.