The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Delhi Metro’s finances, with its revenue deficit crossing Rs 1,900 crore in the last eight months, forcing the public transporter to transfer funds from its projects wing to the operations division and direct its officials to only allow bare minimum expenditure to run trains.
According to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Director (Operations) A K Garg, “in the last 8 months, DMRC has earned only Rs 247.65 crore while expenditure was Rs 2,208.24 crore (approx) including JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) loan and interest repayment due during this period”.
Garg attributed the state of finances in the corporation to the pandemic-induced shutdown of Metro services and low footfall even after reopening of the network, which spans 390-km across Delhi-NCR. He said to meet the shortfall between earnings and expenditure, the corporation has sanctioned Rs 1,910 crore to be transferred from the project division to the operations and maintenance (O&M) division.
The projects division is responsible for construction activities while O&M is entrusted with daily operation and maintenance. “With the onset of pandemic, the government imposed lockdown on DMRC train operations with the result that for a period from 22.03.2020 to 06.09.2020, we had almost nil income from traffic earning as well as property business and parking revenues. Even after reopening of Metro system, due to several restrictions and fear in the public, ridership is very low and consequently the property business and parking revenues are also very low,” Garg wrote.
“To meet this gap, the competent authority has sanctioned Rs 1,910 crore for transfer of funds from consultancy funds maintained by the project division. Now, the balance fund available in consultancy fund is only Rs 260 crore. All HODs of O&M are hereby directed to curtail expenditure incurred by their departments judiciously. Only those expenditures which are very essential for running the trains are to be incurred…,” he said.
Garg pointed out that till last year, the O&M wing had an operational ratio of 80.55%, “which indicated that O&M was self-reliant to meet day-to-day expenditure and a balance was left to meet JICA loan and interest repayment”.
The consultancy funds in the projects division pertain to funds that Metro maintains to use in case of consultancy services it provides for other Metro rail projects across the country.
DMRC’s annual reports show that the company’s total revenue generation was Rs 5,387 crore, Rs 6,211 crore and Rs 6,461 crore in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively. Out of the total, earnings, excluding expenditure, from sale of tickets during these years was Rs 2,179 crore, Rs 3,027 crore and Rs 3,582 crore respectively.
When contacted, DMRC Executive Director (Corporate Communications) Anuj Dayal said: “The funds mentioned are from the revenue earned by DMRC independently from its Consultancy assignments which are only earned and maintained by the project unit. These funds are, therefore, not to be mixed up or confused with funds received for construction of the Metro project. It is clarified that Project construction funds are separate.”
Under current arrangements, alternate seats are left empty in trains. Standing passengers are advised to maintain 1-metre gap.