New Delhi: "We will open a box of sweets only when a formal announcement for the Metro Phase-4 project is made," Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Wednesday soon after Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot assured people that it would be approved in the next cabinet meeting.
At the flagging-off ceremony of the Shiv Vihar-Trilokpuri section of Delhi Metro's Pink Line, Gahlot said that he has directed the transport commissioner to put up the file of Phase-4 in the Delhi Cabinet immediately and hoped that in the next cabinet meeting, the "good news" will officially be conveyed to Delhiites.
The 104-km-long Metro Phase-4 project was estimated to be completed by 2021 after Delhi government's in-principle approval to it in February 2016. But the Delhi Cabinet is yet to take a final decision on it.
Puri told reporters that one year back, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had assured him that he would give his nod for Metro Phase-4 soon.
"At today's event also, they (Delhi government) assured approval at the earliest. At an event recently, they assured that the nod will be given soon. We will open the box of sweets only when a formal announcement is made (by the Delhi government)," he said.
The Union Housing and Urban Affairs minister said if the AAP government does not act on its announcement, the citizens of Delhi will then question them about it.
The project, estimated to cost around Rs 53,000 crore, including price of coaches, was stuck due to the AAP dispensation's doubts over financial viability of some of the routes.
"Delhi government's liability in the project stands to around Rs 14,000 crore spread over seven years," an official had said earlier this week.
The delay in giving approval to the project had snowballed into a blame game between the AAP government and the BJP-led Centre.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari recently said that Rs 1,11,100 would be donated to the ruling party in the national capital if Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal gave his approval for the project.
Asked about his recent remarks that the Centre would execute the metro phase-4 project on its own if the Delhi government does not give its nod to the same, Puri said that he does not have any other option in case the approval was not given.
Puri said that he had reviewed several pending projects when he became a minister in the Narendra Modi government in September last year.
The Union minister said that he got to know that several projects were pending since 2016.
"We provided funds for building the recently inaugurated skywalk (at ITO)... 20 per cent of the funds, which initially was decided to be provided by them (Delhi government), was given by the DDA after my request," he said.
"We cannot hold the citizens of Delhi to ransom. If it (approval for Metro Phase-4 project) does not happen due to any reason, the central government has to take the responsibility (of the project)," Puri told reporters here.
In March this year, Kejriwal had said there were "issues of financial viability" on some of routes under the proposed Phase IV metro project. The Delhi finance department had also made objection on some routes which may not be financially viable.
Gahlot said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has overruled all objections made by the finance department with regard to approval of Metro Phase-IV project.