NEW DELHI: A month after the Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium shut down the Airport Metro Express line, the acrimony between Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and the concessionaire has reached another level. DMRC has now accused R-Infra of trying to shift the blame for the maintenance and related work on to Delhi Metro after it refused the concessionaire’s request to defer payment of concession fee for five years.
Jitender Tyagi, director (works), DMRC, has told TOI, “The contractual agreement is very clear: The concessionaire can inform DMRC of any problem that occur on the Airport Metro line and DMRC will address those issues for the first 12 months. Thereafter, maintenance is the concessionaire’s responsibility.”
According to Tyagi, R-Infra could also have inspected the line six months after the start of services and before the expiry of the 12-month period for any defect or problem on it. “However, the concessionaire never approached Delhi Metro with any such complaints during this period.”
Tyagi claimed, “All the problems started surfacing after DMRC rejected the concessionaire’s request for deferring the concession fee for the next five years. Reliance had cited mounting revenue losses for deferring the payment of concession fee, which is Rs 51 crore annually, plus a percentage of the gross revenue every quarter.”
In the letter written on April 20, R-Infra had said, “Our cash flows are affected very badly….This being the first public-private partnership in Metro domain, we require strong support from our public partner namely DMRC to make it viable.”
DMRC officials said that according to the DMRC-concessionaire agreement, R-Infra could pay a penalty and exit the special purpose vehicle (SPV) under which the Airport Metro Express line has come up.
“According to the agreement, Reliance can default but will have to pay 20% of the loan amount and forfeit its equity. However, if DMRC defaults, Reliance will get back 130% of the equity as well as the debt amount,” said Tyagi. The equity, Delhi Metro officials said, is approximately Rs 800 crore, with Reliance having shown Rs 2,000 crore as loan amount.
Dismissing allegations of “forcing” Reliance to go in for a particular track system in its underground tunnel or putting at risk safety concerns, Delhi Metro officials claimed that DMRC had just “advised” the concessionaire.
“Allegations that we forced or instructed Reliance to opt for a track system are wrong. We gave them several options, none of which they could procure,” said Tyagi, referring to the defective track fastening clips on the underground tunnel.