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Day 68 – Q 2. What has been the overall experience of running mass rapid transit systems by independent agencies like the DMRC? Can such models be replicated in other infrastructure projects and operations also? Critically examine. 

  • IASbaba
  • August 27, 2020
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GS 3, Infrastructure, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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2. What has been the overall experience of running mass rapid transit systems by independent agencies like the DMRC? Can such models be replicated in other infrastructure projects and operations also? Critically examine. 

DMRC जैसी स्वतंत्र एजेंसियों द्वारा मास रैपिड ट्रांजिट सिस्टम चलाने का समग्र अनुभव क्या रहा है? क्या इस तरह के मॉडल को अन्य बुनियादी ढांचा परियोजनाओं और संचालन में भी दोहराया जा सकता है? गंभीर रूप से जांच करें। समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।

Demand of the question – You need to explain the overall experience of DMRC like independent agencies in infrastructure projects and operations in the 1st part of answer and then examine whether such models can be replicated in other projects too and this examination should be comprehensive and all round.

Introduction

For inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth process, an efficient urban transport system including Mass Rapid Transportation System (MRTS) is vital. In this regard, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited, abbreviated to DMRC, is a Centre-state Public Sector company that operates the Delhi Metro. 

Body

DMRC has received multiple awards for its “Outstanding Contribution” for promoting world class services in Urban Transportation and adopting best practices of Project Management. The overall experience of agencies like DMRC is discussed below-

  1. The Delhi Metro project became the first railway project in the world to be certified for carbon credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the United Nations in 2011. DMRC saved 112.5GW of power by using regenerative brakes in the trains and reduced carbon emissions by 630,000t a year. Thus, these help in environmental conservation through eco-friendly measures.
  2. Delhi Metro was designed to be integrated with other public transport. DMRC signed an agreement with bus operator Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to integrate management and through-ticketing. Consequently, these help in free flowing system of transportation.
  3. The organisational structure that the DMRC followed was very functional, consisting of only two departments: Organisation and Operations. This meant that costs were limited to specific factors of energy, manpower and materials and unnecessary expenditure was kept to a minimum. Thus, they help in improving organisational efficiency.
  4. The DMRC’s approach to cooperating with local stakeholders and the federal government’s recognition of the need to refrain from interfering with the DMRC’s decision-making were major factors in aligning the project’s stakeholders. Thus, they help in broad basing decision making.
  5. But at the same time, the Central Groundwater Board has accused the DMRC of illegal dewatering practices during metro construction. It claimed that large-scale dewatering has led to a lowering of the groundwater table in Delhi.

It can be seen that following a model on the lines of independent agencies like DMRC can be largely beneficial for other infrastructure projects and operations as discussed in the points below:

  1. Project design. In India, major infrastructure projects are often stalled because of lack of funds, political interference, lack of professionalism and accountability, property disputes, and corruption. The DMRC attempted to put in place effective systems to ensure the smooth progress of the project to avoid problems.
  2. Institutional setting. The DMRC board of directors has absolute freedom to make technical decisions and depends on the government principally for funding and land acquisition. This arrangement has proven effective in reducing interference from politicians and bureaucrats. 
  3. Skill transfer. To strengthen its own technical expertise and human resources, DMRC made sure that its staff members were central to the project and did not rely overly on general consultants.
  4. Project finance. Globally, most urban metro projects were financially unviable because the fares could not be fixed solely on a commercial basis. To avoid such a situation, the Delhi metro project was conceived as a social sector project. This allowed a significant portion of the project cost to be funded through a soft loan provided by the Japanese government through JICA (former Japan Bank for International Cooperation). 

At the same time, it is necessary to learn from DMRC types of systems to avoid pitfalls in other infrastructure projects like environmental neglect in auxiliary fields and avoiding too much reliance on individual leadership qualities and focusing on strengthening the institutional structures. Also, oversight needs to be increased in other infra projects in terms of transparency and public outreach while strategic projects need to be further scrutinised for viability in such projects.

Conclusion

New cities make new technologies come alive, often replacing inefficient alternatives. Electricity illuminated 19th century England and became commonplace. Now, the Internet is spreading a communications revolution that promises to change the way we work and play. New India must take all these innovations into account and plan for its destined course in multiple ways.

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