The Reliance Infra-owned Delhi Airport Metro Private Limited (DAMEPL) has issued notice to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), stating that the company will not operate the 22.7-km Airport Metro after June 30.
In an emergency board meeting called on Friday, Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, and DMRC chairman, said the letter was “in violation of the concession agreement and ongoing arbitration proceedings”. The statement also said in case DAMEPL does not continue to operate the line, the “DMRC shall step in and operate the line in larger public interest”.
Sources in the Ministry of Urban Development revealed that DAMEPL had intimated, although verbally, that they intended to stop operating the line earlier this week. Since the letter reached the DMRC on Thursday, the emergency meeting was called on Friday.
“The crucial issue in the meeting was whether the DMRC should operate the line, or if operations should stop until another operator is found. However, ultimately, in public interest, it was decided that the DMRC should step in. The issue of penalties stipulated in case of termination will be discussed in the coming days,” an official said.
Sources in the DAMEPL, however, denied that the termination was in violation of the contract, and said that their intention to stop operating the line was not new.
A source said: “There have been several issues with the Airport Metro line, and our decision to terminate the contract is not new. The notice that we have sent is in line with the clauses of the concession agreement, and there is no question of any violation. When we intimated the DMRC this week that we would withdraw, they did not tell us that they saw it as a violation of the agreement or arbitration proceedings.”
They added that they had first submitted the notice of termination in October 2012, but were persuaded to stay on “in public interest”.
“In June 2012, there were structural issues in the construction of the line. When we began operations, we were not aware that there were technical problems with the construction... the line [resumed] operations in January 2013... at 50 kmph... This led to a fear psychosis and reduced ridership. While we entered arbitration proceedings in October, the material bridge was not cured by the DMRC in the stipulated time. It was unfeasible to continue operations in this infinite loop of adverse conditions.”