Debating India

Delhi Metro goes underground

Saturday 2 July 2005

NEW DELHI: Linking the corridors of power of the national capital with the by-lanes of the historic old city, the new underground section of the Delhi Metro was inaugurated on Saturday by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

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Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi pressing the button to unveil a plaque during the inauguration of 6.6 Km underground Metro rail of Central Secretariat - Kashmere Gate section in New Delhi. (PTI PHOTO)

The first train on the seven-km section between Central Secretariat and Kashmere Gate, which has seven stations including one below the New Delhi railway station, raced off as Gandhi pulled a lever at a function near the Parliament House.

"The face of the city will change when the Metro becomes fully operational. Conditions of roads will improve and traffic jams will be reduced," she said.

Delhi Lt Governor B L Joshi, Union Urban Development Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were present at the function besides a number of dignitaries including representatives of the Japanese Government.

Gandhi expressed gratefulness to the Japanese Government for providing soft loans for the Delhi Metro project.

Appreciating the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation for showing that difficult projects could be wrapped up ahead of time, she said other infrastructure projects "should be completed in the same way."

Work on the Central Secretariat-Kashmere Gate section, which began in April 2001, was completed eight months ahead of schedule at a cost of Rs 2,200 crore.

Gandhi said several other cities had also expressed desire to implement similar projects and the UPA Government was committed to improving conditions in them through the National Urban Renewal Mission.

Gandhi, who took a ride on the train from Patel Chowk to Rajiv Chowk station in Connaught Place after buying a ticket, said the Metro can become "fully successful" only when every citizen lends his mite in maintaining cleanliness and ensuring safety of travellers.

Two lines of the Delhi Metro are already operational: the elevated section between Shahdara in the north-east and Rithala in north-west and the underground section Delhi University and Kashmere Gate.

Passengers can change from the elevated section to the underground one at Kashmere Gate where the inter-state bus terminius is located.

Noting that the new Metro section would reduced travel time between Lutyen’s Delhi and old Delhi to half, Lt Governor Joshi said it should be considered as an important part of the infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

"Not just Delhi, but the whole of India can be truly truly proud of the Metro," Chief Minister Dikshit said.

She said 1.3 lakh passengers use the existing line which has resulted in reduction of 1,000 vehicles from the city’s streets.

"We expect about 70,000 people more to use it when the new section is opened to the public from tomorrow. Another 1,000 vehicles are expected to go off the roads as a result," she said.

DMRC Chairman E Sreedharan said the new underground section was the "most difficult and formidable stretch of Phase-I of the Metro. We had to preserve the architectural heritage of old Delhi and the character of Lutyen’s Delhi."

See online : The Times of India

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