Hyderabad: A 6-kilometre stretch connecting the Hyderabad Metro Rail’s (HMR) network to the old city area has become a matter of contention between the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimieen (AIMIM), the authorities and some other political parties.

The issue pertains to a proposed route which is part of corridor 2 in the 72-kilometre first phase of the project, which is unlikely to be completed due to the ongoing tussle.

The proposed route in contention is a 6-kilometre stretch which will connect the Mahatma Gandhi Bus stop to the Falaknuma area near Charminar. The AIMIM had written to the state government in 2010, suggesting an alternate route. Other opposition parties, however, allege that Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM wants to protect its turf in the old city areas, which are its stronghold (the party has seven MLA and one MP seats).

As of now, HMR authorities and L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Ltd, the concessionaire floated to complete the project, are keeping mum on the issue. A senior HMR official declined to comment on the issue, and stated that the 72-kilometre first phase of the project is likely to be completed by the end of next year, barring the 6 kilometres in the old city.

“The AIMIM is opposing the metro rail’s entry into the old city because then its residents will have easy access to the rest of Hyderabad. The party does not want its core voters to leave the old city and also wants to protect its properties which will be demolished in the proposed route," alleged Communist Party of India (CPI) national secretary K. Narayana.

CPI, along with other opposition parties, has also formed a joint action committee (JAC), demanding that the authorities complete the project in the old city as well. The JAC will conduct a rally on 17 December demanding the same, said Narayana.

AIMIM party leaders, however, rubbished the allegations. A senior lawmaker from the party, who was not willing to be quoted, said that the AIMIM is not opposed to the metro rail project and in fact wants it to be completed in the old city as well. “When the agreement was signed by the earlier Congress government in 2009-10, there was no feasibility study or soil-testing done. The route decided was arbitrary," claimed the AIMIM leader.

He stated that the alternate route suggested by the AIMIM, which goes from the Kala Pathar-Bahadurpura to Falaknuma, requires just a few buildings to be acquired for the project, compared to over 1,000 buildings in the proposed route by HMR. “We are telling them to complete the project," the AIMIM leader added.

S.Q. Masood, an old city-based activist who works on development issues, said that he along with other residents will soon start a signature campaign on the issue and send it to the chief minister.

The HMR was inaugurated on 28 November by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A 30-kilometre stretch was opened for the public of the total 72-kilometre (comprising three corridors), connecting the Secunderabad and Hi-tech city areas. A little more than Rs14,000 crore has been spent on works so far.

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