Even as commuters in Hyderabad make their way to and from work every day, one sight that they are guaranteed to witness, is ongoing construction work for the Hyderabad Metro Rail, which is at various stages of completion in different parts of the city.
The construction work for the Metro has come into the limelight as it is contributing to the commuting nightmare that Hyderabad has become, due to its crumbling infrastructure.
Many arterial roads in the city presently have diversions and bottlenecks, with traffic coming to a complete standstill during rush hours.
According to recent reports, officials claimed that more than 67% of the work was completed, and have promised that the metro will be fully operational by December 2018.
L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Ltd (LTMRHL), a subsidiary of construction major Larsen & Toubro, said 20km of metro rail in two stretches were technically ready, but declined to comment as to when the stretches will be thrown open to public.
In February, Telangana municipal administration and urban development minister K T Rama Rao stated that commercial operations of Hyderabad Metro Railâ€™s first phase will start on June 2. That promise, however, was never kept.
However, if one were to rewind to 2012, a report quotes then unified Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy saying the exact same thing and claiming that the very same stretch would be flagged off by June 2014.
The first bidding process for the project took place in 2008 and was awarded to â€śMaytasâ€ť, founded by former Satyam chairman B Ramalinga Raju.
However, the government of Andhra Pradesh cancelled the deal after Maytas Infra Ltd-led consortium failed to raise adequate finances for the project.
In 2010, fresh bids were called, and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) bagged the Rs 12,132-crore project.
The concession agreement with the then government of united Andhra Pradesh, for what was touted to be the largest metro project in the world in public-private partnership, was signed in September 2010 but the work commenced in July 2012.
When the project was flagged off, the companies claimed that it would be completed in around three years.
However, since then, successive governments have run into a lot of roadblocks
In a 2013 report, The Hindu had stated:
In the busy corridor that heads towards the IT hub of Hyderabad, land acquisition in the Ameerpet stretch and in the corridor passing through the Old City that touches the busy market junction of Sultan Bazar, have been troublesome. The local traders are against the project. To add to these issues, there are a few religious structures, including an Iskcon temple, which need to be acquired.
You can read more about the dispute between the Iskcon temple and the Metro Rail here.
The Metro Rail is also fighting a legal battle with one of the oldest churches in the city at Secunderabad.
In 2014, the project faced a hurdle from the Telangana government itself with the latter demanding the realignment of the metro on two of the three corridors, to save religious structures.
The friction escalated so much that L&T reportedly threatened to pull out of the project.
The move also had a political undertone as the TRS government held talks with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) during this period
At the time, officials claimed that the realignment would escalate the project cost by a few hundred crore rupees. After two years of discussions, in March this year, the Telangana government finally decided to stick to the original alignment.
Reports also added that the main concern is that the government may have to seek environmental clearances to take up the metro work along the Musi.
In November 2015, traders at the Sultan Bazar market in Hyderabad downed their shutters in protest and claimed that the Metro would deprive them of hundreds of jobs.
After a face-off that lasted for close to three months, the two parties finally struck a deal, with the Metro Rail promising that a stretch would be developed as a hawkersâ€™ paradise with special arrangements for them in between the Metro's viaduct.
At present, reports suggest that more than 200 court cases were pending against the Hyderabad Metro Rail.
However, officials now claim that work is gathering pace and the 71.16 km elevated metro rail project is likely to be fully operational by December 2018.
As per the latest release by officials this month, 17 stations have been completed on two stages while work is in progress on three interchange stations and other 30 stations.
When The Hindu asked NVS Reddy, Managing Director of Hyderabad Metro Rail, if there was any slowdown in the progress of the project he said, â€śAs the works enter critical phase and denser parts of the city, people may perceive there is slowdown. But this is not the case. In fact, big chunk of work is executed at higher planes, and in developing stations, rail overbridges and interconnects."
Many questions are also being raised over the completion of the Nagole to Mettuguda and SR Nagar to Miyapur stretches, which were certified months ago and are ready for use.
One of the main issues of contention between the Telangana government and L&T, is bearing the brunt of the delay.
The project cost has already been increased by around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore from its initial estimate, and L&T is looking at the government for monetary compensation, while the state isn't too keen on the demand.
â€śWe really donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening. Several issues need to be resolved, but so far nothing is done. No dialogue between the state government and L&T,â€ť said a senior official from the HMRL told The Hans India.
For now, the officials remain tight lipped on when the completed stretches of the project will be thrown open for public use.