Barriers proclaim “Mumbai is Upgrading” at sites where work on the long-awaited Metro lines is going on, while urging people to bear with the inconvenience. The metropolis’ citizens — generally referred to as Mumbaikars — have a fair idea of what such transformation will bring to their lives by making daily commutes easier. However, after about three years, the pace of the work in effecting this transformation is becoming a cause of concern.
Revamping the crowded city’s public transport infrastructure is a critical need, with existing suburban railway routes and buses hugely overburdened. The metro rail, according to Ashwini Bhide of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL), is the best mode of transport that provides a viable alternative.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave the nod to detailed project reports (DPR) of three lines in November, two more have been announced during the groundbreaking ceremony in Thane-Kalyan-Bhiwandi and Pune. Made in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these new lines bring the total to twelve metro lines envisaged for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) at an investment of `2 lakh crore. Though some are still on paper and await approvals, work on many has already started with some expected to become operational in 2019.
Three Metro corridors — 2A, 7 and 3 — are in different stages of completion and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the nodal agency for infrastructure development, is expecting to throw open at least two — Metro 7 and Metro 2A — in 2019. The government wants these operationalised, preferably before the state assembly elections in October, if not before the Lok Sabha polls in the first quarter. The MMRDA has also initiated the process to form Mumbai Metro Operation Corporation Ltd. (MMOCL) ahead of the opening. This will be an autonomous body dealing with the operation and maintenance of metro and monorail lines.
The MMRCL is also planning to complete 80 per cent of the tunneling work for Metro 3 by December 2019 and aims to commission it by 2021, though much time this year was lost in litigation. It has started preliminary work on Metro 2B and Metro 4, with 2B planned to provide much needed east-west connectivity linking Mandala village with DN Nagar. The latter will link Kasarwadavli to Vadala. Contractors of these lines were recently served with notices to increase their speed of work.
In time for polls
The Maharashtra government is planning to throw open two of the under-construction lines — Metro 7 and Metro 2A — in time for the Lok Sabha polls expected in early 2019-20, or by the time state assembly polls come around in October.