The controversy over Kochi Metro Rail points to people’s lack of trust over Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his government, and for that matter, any government in Kerala. They trust octogenarian E. Sreedharan (former MD of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) to complete the Metro project efficiently and without much time lag.
Mr. Sreedharan naturally wants an organisation behind him and he wants the one that he is familiar with — the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). And DMRC had agreed to be behind him and the only formality that remained was ratification of agreement by the director boards of the DMRC and the Kochi Metro Rail Limited formed to implement the project.
Now the DMRC is backtracking under oblique pressure from politicians and bureaucrats who want to the contract to be entrusted to others. It is clear that the arguments being advanced against DMRC participation are just being raised as excuses. While every private company wants to expand, the public sector DMRC just wants to confine itself to Delhi! It maintains that it is too preoccupied with its work in Delhi that it does not have the resources to undertake work in Kerala.
If this is true, one wonders why it had agreed to participate and had even undertaken preliminary works. If DMRC had any real problems in taking up the work, would not Mr. Sreedharan and others known that?
This is not to say that the DRMC could be the most qualified company to undertake the work. It depended on multinational companies for civil works, design, and installation of signaling and electrical works for Delhi Metro. The coaches were imported. As a contractor for the Delhi airport express metro line, the DMRC had faltered. It had built the line for Reliance and operations had to be suspended in six months for rectification of problems.
However, the bet here is on Mr. Sreedharan who has a clean image. The Opposition and large section of people believe that large scale corruption and delays would occur if Sreedharan is not overseeing the project.
Related blog post:
Project review (in Malayalam)