The great rail race


By Alok Tiwari

Now you see it, now you don’t. Like the smile of the Cheshire cat, the much talked about rail – based mass transit project for the capital keeps appearing now and then, before vanishing again.

1With religious regularity, committees, study groups and task forces have been set up to suggest ways of solving the capital’s accelerating transport problem. In almost every case, the reports have become irrelevant before they could be acted upon, defeated by the burgeoning population and bureaucratic lethargy. The outcome: Delhi’s traffic speeds from bad to chaotic.

The capital’s lifeline, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), with a fleet of over 5,000 buses that carry close to 5 million passengers daily, is under severe stress. To meet the city’s needs a decade from now, the fleet will have to be upgraded to 12,000 buses, a number even Delhi’s wide roads can hardly take.

Realising belatedly that this problem can no longer be shelved, planners have finally got into the act. Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) is working on a detailed project report for a 36 – km east – west corridor, to be taken up in the first phase of a mass transit system in the capital {see map). And though the Rs.2.5 – crore study is incomplete, the question of who will get the prize contract for the project – worth an estimated Rs2,000 crore – has suddenly acquired Bofors – like importance. More info