NAGPUR (Metro Rail News): In a country where infrastructure projects hog headlines for time and cost overruns, the Nagpur Metro is ahead of targets, with the backing of two political leaders ensuring that hurdles in the way of the project are removed in double-quick time.
Says Brijesh Dixit, MD of Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (Maha Metro), “it is common for such projects to suffer delays and cost overruns of 50-100% but the Nagpur Metro will be finished ahead of schedule and at around 10% fewer costs than estimated”. And it has certainly helped that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Road Minister Nitin Gadkari both hail from Nagpur and are closely involved with the project.
Since construction started in May 2015, more than 80% of the physical work and 60% of the investments have been done, says Dixit. Operations on the first 13.5-km stretch between Khapri Metro Station and Sitabuldi Interchange Station were inaugurated in March this year, and the next stretch of 11 km from Sitabuldi to Lokmanya Nagar Metro Station is scheduled to get operational next month.
With that, around 25 km of the 38.215-km network to be built in Phase I of the project would be ready. The entire network is expected to be operational by mid-2020.
Meanwhile, the state government has given its nod to the `11,216-crore Phase II of the project, which is slated to add 48 km of lines to the network. The detailed project report (DPR) for the purpose is awaiting the Centre’s nod.
The `8,680-crore Phase-I has two lines – the North-South Orange corridor from Automotive Square to Khapri (19.658 km) and the East-West Aqua corridor from Prajapati Nagar to Lokmanya Nagar (18.557-km). Ridership on the project’s completion has been estimated at 3.63 lakh per day.
The Nagpur Metro is being funded by the Centre and the state government through a mix of equity and debt.
Highlighting the steps taken for efficiency, costs have been cut by `500 crores so far. Among these is the procurement of rolling stock from China for `718 crores instead of the envisaged 920 crores. Instead of investing in an automatic fare collection system, Maha Metro has asked a State Bank of India-led consortium to build and run the system and pay it a royalty of `30 crore. This has resulted in savings of `300 crores said Dixit.
Generation of solar power from panels that have been installed on station rooftops, depot roofs, boundary walls, and administrative offices would meet 65% of the network’s requirements, allowing Maha Metro to save 5.95 per unit of power. In what is a first for India, the network would allow multiple transport modes to share the right of way with a three-layer system that includes a road, a flyover and the Metro line on top. In the pipeline is a four-decker system that includes a railway line.
While Metro projects in most cities have followed the wheel of development, Nagpur might see the project becoming an engine of its economic development. Already the third-largest city of Maharashtra with a population of 35 lakh, the city is billed to be an aviation and logistics hub in the coming years and economic activity along the Metro network may well prove the catalyst for the transformation of its landscape.