Sucheta Dalal :An Open Letter to Sonia Gandhi On Urban Transport
Sucheta Dalal

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An Open Letter to Sonia Gandhi On Urban Transport  

October 10, 2007

To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle—Confucius, (551 BC - 479 BC)



Dear Madam,


Sub: Why not 100 metro rails in 100 cities of India at no cost to

State? That is what India can have with Skybus Metro Rail!


As an engineer of the country and inventor having assigned my

patents to people of my country, I am unable to stop writing to

you, even though there has been no response to my earlier

letters. It is because I know what is right for urban transport, it is

matter of principle that our country’s technology is not sabotaged

by the petty procurement specialists, however much highly placed

they are in the government.


To remove the confusion that the so called technical experts

chosen by our smart bureaucrats, to put down Skybus, the safety

tests I already conducted and proven- I would like a simple

proposal of mine to be considered.


Officially allow a Sate government to call for tenders to put up a

metro rail with no viability gap funding from the state, but with the

same performance and safety requirements applicable to

standard metro rail in the world, but with additional requirement

that the railway shall be derailment proof and coach shall never

escape railway track and capsize, ( better than any world class

metro rail) , which could be similar to Konkan Skybus metro, (as

an example.) The bidder shall first construct one kilometer model

section, prove that the international safety standards and safety

requirements for train control as applicable to metro rail in India,

are met with, providing an independent Safety certificate from an

organization of impeccable reputation in the world, say similar to

TUV Rheinland or Lloyds UK rail, based on which the

Commissioner appointed by the State will issue the certificate for

operating under the Indian state law,( either metro rail rules or

Tramway Act). If successful, the bidder will have right to

construct and operate the metro rail system for a period of 30

years. No viability gap funding will be provided by the state, but

right of way all along existing routes and other facilitation in terms

of permissions, taxes, notifications and enabling rules for

operation will be made.


If the bidder fails to get the certification, then the structure so

constructed shall be useful to the state as a flyover, providing at

least 3 lanes fit for cars, autos, two wheelers. When successful,

the stretch forms part of the total route length.


By encouraging the Indian technology, like Skybus, India will gain:

1.         Save government funds from urban transport-

provide the same for water supply and sanitation of the cities

2.            Provide in 100 cities metro rail transport- not just one

or two

3.         Indian industry will get fillip and will compete in

international market as leaders of advanced technology in metros

4.         Base will be laid then to change the way we

construct sea ports and airports

5.            Almost Rs 100,000 cr infrastructure can be

developed, without government loans or funding in urban


6.         As no urban property will get dislocated, the

government will not incur the wrath and tears of those who lose

habitats and businesses as it is happening now in the name of

metro rail.

7.         Be Indian and be proud as the leader of technology,

NOT a mere procurer!


What are the risks?

1.            Untested technology and not proven- public safety

state has to assure, is the refrain of the bureaucracy and their

chosen consultants- refusing to understand the oscillation test

results, demonstrated at Goa. Be as it may, the risk to state is

now removed, because only if the model stretch satisfies the

safety standards, and gets certified under law, public transport

will be allowed.

2.         If it is so good some advanced country like USA.

Germany should have done this system, earlier- and attempts are

made to compare with rubber tyred system- while Skybus is rail

based system. This also makes no more sense now that risk is

transferred to the bidder.

3.            Capacities and performance concerns are raised-

but again these are commercial risks for the operator- any way

the model stretch will demonstrate these requirements. There is

no risk for the state.

4.         The right of way given over the kilometer will be

wasted, when the technology fails, and so state will have an

unwanted ugly civil structure- but now that it can be still used as

a flyover, this objection has no basis now.


I am deeply concerned that Government of India has spent Rs 50

cr and tested the Skybus on test track and proved the only point

to be confirmed- the dynamic behaviour of suspended coach

successfully- but the country is denied the benefit of the

technology. It is a mere design case of using the same railway

technology, but procurement specialists are making it look like a

complex research project.


The benefit of patents I got for the country are being denied to the

people and you will agree, it is reprehensive. My prayer is that if in

spite of this proposal of mine, Government is unable to use and

wants to just delay use of technology for people, then, it is better

the patents may be returned back to me- I will use the rights in

setting up the new Skybus technology based metro rails outside

India, so that others may benefit.



With best wishes and regards,

Yours truly,



7th Oct. 2007

(The author, B.Rajaram, is the former Managing Director of Konkan Railway and inventor of the Skybus, which will resolve India’s tranport problem. He now heads Atri Knowledge Embedded Infrastructure Lab P. Limited and is based in Hyderabad



-- Sucheta Dalal