The Telangana government is considering giving L&T, the private player in Hyderabad’s Metro project, financial relief and subsidies for the massive loss of Rs 400 crore that the company has incurred during the five months of lockdown.
In the context of Reliance’s possible backing out of Mumbai Metro’s public-private partnership (PPP) model, officials said the State government will provide all forms of relief to L&T depending on the number of days the company has been out of business.
Speaking to Express, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of IT and Industries, said, “According to a clause in the contract signed by the company and the government, L&T is eligible for financial help and support in times like these. We will provide it with subsidies and financial relief on the basis of how many days the company has been out of business during the lockdown, if they ask for such financial support”.
The Hyderabad Metro is set to lose nearly Rs 45 crore every month as long as its trains remain parked. According to L&T Metro Rail’s latest financial audit report published in May, the company generated a revenue of Rs 590 crore solely from the operation of the Metro last fiscal.
Project cost shoots up
Earlier this year, NVS Reddy, MD of HMRL, had said L&T was paying close to Rs 1,300 crore in interest every year. The cost of the project has increased to Rs 21,000 crore. A reliable source informed Express, “It will take a ridership of over 9 lakh passengers every day, for an entire year, for the project to break even.”
Changing the way you travel
Meanwhile, HMRL has begun amping up its trial runs and precautionary measures as the Centre government gives hopes of restarting Metro services as a part of Unlock 4. From regular scrubbing and sanitisation of benches, railings and elevators, and pasting social distancing stickers to sanitising baggage x-ray machines, the future of Metro travel is changing. State government officials said they still have not been given any clear green signal but all eyes are on the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) getting the approval to restart services. In addition to this, the number of trial runs being conducted during the lockdown for maintenance purposes has been increased, hoping for resumption in services by next month.
Frequency to be increased
In addition to this, HMRL may also increase the frequency of trains to accommodate all passengers while avoiding crowding. According to a reliable source in the Hyderabad Metro, “Isolation facilities will be made available at all Metro stations in case of an emergency. A helpline number, too, would be provided to passengers. All the staffers will be given PPE kits and training. In terms of crowd management, seats in the trains will be marked for alternative seating. Restricted number of passengers in elevators, and escalators will be maintained.”