Urbanization has brought about an increased need for efficient transportation systems in cities around the world. As a result, metro rail projects have gained prominence as a reliable and sustainable mode of mass transit. The Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978 plays a crucial role in facilitating the implementation of these projects. In this blog, we will explore the significance of this Act and delve into its key provisions, examining how it has shaped the landscape of metro rail systems in India.
OVERVIEW OF THE METRO RAILWAYS (CONSTRUCTION OF WORKS) ACT, 1978
The rise in urbanization and the challenges posed by congested cities necessitated the introduction of metro rail systems. These projects aim to provide a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, reducing traffic congestion and improving connectivity within cities.
The Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978 was enacted to regulate the construction and operation of metro rail systems in India. It came into force on 1 February 1979 and it was first applied in the year 1984 to the metropolitan city of Calcutta which is now known as Kolkata. The Act also empowered the Central Government to, by notification in The Gazette of India, extend the Act to any other metropolitan city. This Act provides a comprehensive framework for land acquisition, determination of compensation, establishment of metro railway administrations, implementation of safety measures, and penalty provisions for non-compliance. Some of them are as follows:
LAND ACQUISITION FOR METRO RAIL PROJECTS
The Act empowers metro railway administrations to acquire land for the construction of metro rail works. It outlines the process of land acquisition, the powers and authorities responsible for the acquisition, and the mechanisms for determining compensation to affected landowners. The Act also emphasizes the importance of rehabilitation and resettlement measures to mitigate the impact on affected communities.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE METRO RAILWAY ADMINISTRATION
The Act assigns crucial roles and responsibilities to the metro railway administration. These include planning and executing metro rail works, coordinating with relevant authorities and stakeholders, ensuring the safety and security of metro rail operations, and maintaining and upgrading the metro rail infrastructure.
SAFETY MEASURES AND REGULATIONS
Safety is of paramount importance in metro rail projects, considering the large number of passengers they carry. The Act incorporates provisions for ensuring safety, including adherence to design and construction standards, regular safety inspections and audits, and the formulation of emergency response and evacuation procedures.
CHALLENGES AND CONCERNS
Despite the Act’s provisions, challenges persist in implementing metro rail projects. Issues related to land acquisition, compensation, and community engagement need to be addressed effectively. Compliance with safety regulations also remains a key concern, requiring continuous monitoring and improvement.
SUCCESS AND SOLUTION
To deal with some challenges and to provide assistance to the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978, the New Metro Policy was introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The main objectives of this policy are to cope with the increasing demands of transportation and make it cost-effective and fast. This policy includes the development of new modes of transit like the Regional Rapid Transit System, MetroLite, MetroNeo & WaterMetro. It mainly focuses on three models, The Public-Private Partnership, The Central Government would provide a lump sum payment of 10% of the Metro project cost and The Centre and the state utilize a 50-50 equity sharing system. Considering the current insufficient availability and sometimes lack of last-mile connectivity, the new policy aims to address this issue by concentrating on a catchment area of five kilometres on both sides of metro stations. In order to achieve this, the policy mandates that states include provisions in their project reports to ensure the provision of necessary last-mile connectivity through feeder services, infrastructure for non-motorized transport such as walking and cycling paths, and the introduction of para-transport facilities. When proposing new metro projects, states will need to specify in their project reports the plans and investments that will be allocated for these services.
Several metro rail projects across India have been successfully implemented under the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978. These projects have transformed urban transportation, reducing travel time, improving connectivity, and positively impacting the overall development of cities. Currently, there are 27 cities in India where metro rail is operational or under construction. With the introduction of this new policy India will achieve its goal of being a developed nation with advanced, cost-effective and faster modes of transit.
The Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, of 1978 has played a pivotal role in facilitating the development of metro rail systems in India. By providing a legal framework for land acquisition, compensation determination, safety regulations, and the establishment of metro railway administrations, the Act has empowered efficient urban transportation. With continued advancements and adherence to safety standards, metro rail projects are poised to revolutionize urban mobility in the future.
Author’s Name: Shiv Kumar (Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Law University, Sonipat)