New Delhi: Reliance Infra, which runs the Delhi Airport Metro line, has refused to operate it beyond June 30, a notice rejected by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Friday which termed it as a "violation" of the Concession agreement and the ongoing arbitration proceedings.
However, if Reliance Infra does not operate it, DMRC will step in and run it, DMRC Chairman Sudhir Krishna said.
Reliance Infra owned Delhi Airport Metro Private Limited (DAMEPL) has written a letter on June 27 expressing its inability to continue operations from the night of June 30.
The Board of Directors of DMRC, which met to discuss the matter, concluded that the "notice is in violation of the Concession Agreement and the ongoing arbitration proceedings", an official statement said here.
The statement by Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Urban Development Ministry and Chairman, DMRC, said "the Board decided to reject the notice and call upon them to continue the operations of the line in terms of the Agreement. If, however, they do not do so, DMRC shall step in and operate the line in larger public interest."
The Airport Metro line, which is the country's first Public Private Partnership (PPP), has had a tumultuous run beset with controversies after it began operations in February 2011.
The services were suspended from July 7, 2012 to January 22, 2013 due to technical problems and after reopening, the speed was cut to 50 km per hour, extending journey time from the airport to New Delhi Railway Station to over 40 minutes, which resulted in a fall in ridership.
Before the suspension of services, the ridership hovered around 20,000 to 21,000 but after the resumption, the ridership was nearly halved to around 10,000.
Sources in Reliance Infra said the decision to shut operations was not new as they had taken up the matter with DMRC four-five months ago.
They said that during the shutdown incident, the company incurred huge losses and even now the ridership was very low, implying that the operation was not commercially viable.
A senior Reliance Infra official said their decision to terminate the services was "not new" and it was "pending for the last four-five months".
The official claimed DMRC could not rectify the structural defects in the Airport Metro line in time and they had to shut down operations for a longer period.
"We incurred huge losses due to it and after resumption of services, there was a 50 percent drop in ridership," he said.
Asked about DMRC's charge that Reliance Infra has violated the agreement and the arbitration process, the official said they do not agree with such claims.
The high-speed Metro corridor connects the city centre of Connaught Place with the swanky Terminal-3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
As the Airport Metro line faces fresh trouble, Central Vigilance Commission is assessing the report of the two-member committee instituted by the Urban Development ministry to look into the closure of the Airport Metro line in July last year.
The ministry had forwarded the committee's findings to CVC for its advice.
The two-member panel, comprising Additional Secretary D Diptivilasa and then Additional Member (Works) in the Railway Board A K Gupta, presented its findings in a 103-page report.
The panel had found shortcomings on the part of different stakeholders.