Mumbai: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come down on the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority (MMRDA) for spending Rs. 5 crore unnecessarily crore in the construction of the Metro-II corridor in Mumbai. The CAG report has said the MMRDA appointed an independent engineer without resolving environmental issues related to the Metro-II corridor, which resulted in an ‘infructuous’ expenditure of Rs. 4.71 crore.
The CAG pointed out that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), a fully-owned company of MMRDA, entered in January, 2011, into an agreement with a consortium of three private parties for rendering consultancy services.
The scope of the consultancy’s work was to review and finalise the standard gauge rail system, conceptual designs, quality assurance programme, safety and operation plan etc.
The total consultancy fee was Rs. 20.31 crore, of which five per cent was payable as an advance. The government also entered into a concession agreement (CA) with the concessionaire. Mumbai Metro Transport Private Limited (MMPTL), a consortium of Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RIL), was appointed as a concessionaire to construct and operate the Metro on the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd route.
But before entering into the CA, RIL had in 2010 written to MMRDA that in both Charkop and Mankhurd depots, substantial area was falling under the Coastal Regulation Zone and this was not made known to them at the bidding stage. It was also stated that this was an impediment to the implementation of the project.
“Therefore, instead of taking steps for resolution of the environmental clearance issue, MMRCL went ahead with the appointment of the independent engineer and also released payment to them,” the CAG said.
Since the environmental clearances were not received and the project had become a not-starter, the GOM decided to terminate the contract at no cost to either party. “Consequently the entire payment made to the engineer became infructuous. The work done by him was not even verifiable.” The CAG also rejected the explanation submitted by MMRCL, stating the latter was well aware of the fact that the environmental clearances were required.
“They knew this project would be a non-starter. The role of the engineer whose services were engaged for work relating to implementation of the project were rendered futile,” it said.
MMRDA not for Metro line on MTHL
On one hand, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) says that public transport is the solution to Mumbai’s commuting woes, on the other hand, it is still not in favour of a Metro rail on the Sewri-Nhava Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL).
“Once the Dahisar (E)-Andheri (E) Metro is ready, it will have a capacity to carry motorists equivalent of using 50 car lanes of a highway,” said Pravin Darade, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA. As per the projections, by 2021, 5.29 lakh passengers are expected to take a ride on the Metro, as compared to 6.67 lakh in 2031.
In 2011, the MMRDA had proposed a Metro line parallel to the road sea bridge. The idea was to connect Mumbai’s Metro rail network with that of Navi Mumbai, and eventually with the planned Navi Mumbai International Airport.
But as the MMRDA initiated the tendering procedure, it dropped the Metro rail plan, citing implementation “at a later stage”.
When a senior MMRDA official was asked about the issue, he replied, “It (Metro line) was never planned on MTHL. It was just an idea.”