Mumbai: The Mumbai Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (MMRC), which is building Mumbai Metro’s longest corridor between Colaba in south and Seepz in west, plans to clear all hurdles delaying the project in the next two months.
Work on the 33.5km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor is likely to start early 2016, said MMRC’s managing director Ashwini Bhide. The MMRC is a joint venture between the government of India and the government of Maharashtra formed to execute the Rs.23,136-crore metro corridor between Mumbai’s two business districts Seepz and Bandra Kurla Complex with the city’s southern tip.
Measuring 146km, the Mumbai Metro is one of the shortest such projects in the world. The Shanghai Metro which opened in 1993 is the longest in the world—538km. The world’s oldest metro system, the Tube in London, is 402km long.
However, its relatively smaller specifications do not mean the Mumbai Metro project is easier to execute, Bhide argued. “This corridor is not just the longest of the eight metro lines in Mumbai. It is also an entirely underground corridor,” Bhide said. It is also Mumbai’s costliest stand-alone infrastructure project.
The MMRC, after delays caused by environmental concerns and resettlement issues, is in a position to fast-track the project by February 2016. The MMRC plans to build this corridor by 2022. “This is the deadline the state government has set and we are very confident of meeting it,” Bhide said.
The Mumbai Metro plan proposes to construct eight corridors in Mumbai and another line connecting Mumbai with Thane. The first line connecting Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar is already operational. The plan is being implemented in three phases and the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor is part of phase one. The MMRC has further split the corridor in eight different packages, each involving a track of 3-4km. It has received about 31 bids from eight consortia to construct different packages. Of the estimated total cost of Rs.23,136 crore, MMRC has contracted 57.2% (Rs.13,235 crore) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, while the rest will come from various stakeholders in the form of equity.
Two main problems have confronted the project so far.
The first is the construction of a Metro car shed first proposed near Aarey Colony in Goregaon where the city’s western periphery meets the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Environmentalists and citizens opposed this plan since the green patch in Aarey Colony is one the very few such open spaces in Mumbai and the car shed plan over 30 hectares involved cutting nearly 2,300 trees.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis formed a six-member committee under Mumbai metropolitan commissioner U.P.S. Madan with representatives from the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT Mumbai as members to propose alternative sites.
This committee came up with six options, of which the state government and MMRC chose the land in Kanjur. “It is a government land but there are a few private claimants who have contested it through litigations. We hope to get a clear claim over this land soon,” Bhide said.
The six-member committee also suggested an alternative plan for the car shed in case the MMRC does not get the Kanjur land in two to three months. The committee has proposed a smaller piece of land—10 hectares—in Aarey itself, but a double-decker car shed would cost an additionalRs.750 crore.
“This is not the option the committee and even the state government would ideally prefer since the cost involved is quite high. Ideally we are in favour of a smaller shed at Aarey and the main shed at Kanjur since the Kanjur land is one contiguous piece of land which has a more clear government title,” a committee member said. As per this plan, the Kanjur car shed will have around 25 stabling lines and the smaller shed at Aarey will have 16. These two car sheds have been proposed to cater to all the metro cars under the Mumbai metro project and so are critical to the entire plan.
The second concern confronting the Colaba-Seepz corridor has been the resettlement of 1,780 hutments and 709 families which will be affected by the project along the 33.5km track. The Shiv Sena has opposed what it alleged as the planned “demolition” of 28 buildings in Girgaon and Kalbadevi. “We are not demolishing these buildings. We have in fact agreed to rehabilitate people living in these buildings in the same area and a consultant has been appointed to propose a holistic resettlement plan,” Bhide said, adding that the MMRC was confident of finding a solution acceptable to all stakeholders.