The financial dispute between Union and Delhi Government over DMRC’s 104-km phase-IV is most likely to come under the scanner of Supreme Court as the highest court said that it would pass an order in the same issue as this “project cannot wait”.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta was told by senior advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the top court as amicus curiae in pollution matter, that the project is “critical” and the pending issue should be resolved soon.
Singh also bought a report of Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) into notice that clearly states that the approval for “103.94 km phase IV of the Delhi metro has been held up since 2014, when the project was submitted to the Union government for its approval”.
The report also said that there is a stalemate in the discussions between the Union Government and the Delhi government on different financial aspects of the project. The Delhi government has on April 10, 2019 communicated its direction that DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) would not start work of Delhi Metro phase-IV till these issues are resolved.
Singh also informed the bench about the issues that are not yet resolved such as bearing of the operational loss, repayment of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan in case of default, sharing of land cost and taxes.
Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that project financing has been done in consonance with the Metro Rail Policy of August 2017 and metro projects of other cities like Bhopal, Indore, Kanpur, Patna and Agra have been sanctioned on the same financial pattern as of Delhi metro phase-IV.
However, the bench questioned Nadkarni about the past practice on liability of taxes among the Centre and states as well as regarding who bears the cost of land.
In reply, Nadkarni said that he would take instructions on these aspects and get back to the court.
The EPCA, in its report filed in the court, has said that phase-IV of the Delhi Metro is “critical as it will add another 104 km to the network” and “it is designed to join the current network and will make it dense to make the system more viable and attractive to commuters.”
The bench also dealt with the issue of remote sensing technology which will help identify polluting vehicles in the national capital.
Singh, the amicus told the court that EPCA has suggested that remote sensing technology should be put in place as it would help check emission of particulate matter (PM) and other hazardous substances like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) from vehicles.
He further said that the same technology was used successfully in Kolkata and an agency, which was asked by the apex court to check its modalities, has checked on around 1.76 lakh vehicles and found the technology to be useful.
The bench asked EPCA to apprise it about the modalities to implement the remote sensing technology. The bench also dealt with the issue of parking policy in Delhi.
Aparajita Singh also informed the court about the parking issue in the residential areas and the EPCA can submit a report in the court on the issue after consulting all the stakeholders.
Prior to this, the apex court had observed that finding space to park vehicles in Delhi was a huge problem and even footpaths and roads were being used for it, creating problems for the pedestrians. These issues have cropped up before the court when it was hearing a matter relating to air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region.
The Supreme Court scheduled next hearing for 12th July and said that “You take instructions. We will pass order. This project cannot wait”.