Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed an agreement with the Government of India to provide 82.434 billion Japanese Yen (about Rs.4,870 crore) Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan for the development of the metro rail system in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The ODA loan’s conditions are very concessional, i.e. 1.4 per cent of interest rate and 30 years of repayment period (including 10 years of grace period). The assistance from JICA will facilitate construction of underground and elevated rail tracks, electrical, telecommunication and signalling systems and procurement of the trains.
India is JICA’s largest global partner. With the signing of this loan agreement for Ahmedabad Metro Project, the cumulative loan amount provided by JICA for metro projects in India (including Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai Metro’s) has exceeded 1 trillion Japanese Yen (about Rs.5,9071 crore).
The agreement was signed between Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India Office and S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India at Ministry of Finance.
The project will provide the first metro rail system network of about 38 km in Ahmedabad from Motera Stadium to APMC (North-South Corridor) and Thaltej to Vastral Gaam (East-West Corridor). It will cover the central business district area, academic area, residential area and institutional complex area of Ahmedabad Metropolitan Area. Development of metro in Ahmedabad will provide safe, timely and comfortable travel with high reliability of services to the citizens, as a typical example of high quality infrastructure.
The executing agency for the project is Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad Company Ltd (MEGA). The complete commercial operation is expected to start from 2020.
“Ahmedabad is the fifth most populated city in India,” said Takema Sakamoto. “This concessional loan will help develop mass rapid transit system in the Ahmedabad metropolitan area. This project will meet the growing traffic demands, leading to modal shift from road traffic to public transportation system and will eventually lead to balanced regional development and improvement of environmental conditions.”
The technology being implemented for metro will include the advanced singling system, i.e. communication based train control system in order to achieve high level of safety enforcement and reliability of the project. Automatic fare collection system with combination of IC smart card for multiple journeys and computerized contactless smart token for single journey will be adopted into the project as well.
Advanced technology and systems will reduce the total life cycle cost (LCC), including operation and maintenance stage. In addition, the cooperation in urban rail sector with advanced technology enhances the development of human resources in India.
The metro will provide safe, reliable service for female and vulnerable passengers, such as the seniors and persons with disability, by installing CCTV, intercoms for emergency communication, courtesy seats, women-only passenger car, space for wheelchairs in cars, textured paving blocks and lifts in platforms.
The government has mentioned the necessity of improvement on public transportation system in terms of the safety, energy efficiency and environmental conservation in addition to dealing with the traffic demand based on the recent economic developments across the country. The government has been continuously addressing on the issue of strengthening of public transportation and such policy is also reflected in the 12th Five-Year Plan.
In recent years, JICA has also extended 17,521 million Japanese Yen (about Rs.1,035 crore) for the Gujarat Forestry Development Project. The objective of the project is to regenerate the forest and raise the living standards of the local inhabitants by conducting community-based afforestation and exercises to enhance livelihood in the condition of Gujarat in western India, thereby contributing to improvement of the local environment and poverty reduction.