By Dev Chatterjee business-standard.com
Mumbai Metro was an infrastructure project which was expected to transform the way the Maximum City commutes. The project promised to connect the central and western suburbs with air-conditioned trains; a distance of 11 km was to be covered in less than 25 minutes as compared to 90 minutes taken by car or bus at present.
For the people of Mumbai, used to travelling in cramped local trains and spending long hours on their daily commute, the Metro was the most eagerly-awaited infrastructure project ever taken up in the city. But the news from the ground isn’t encouraging. The project is delayed by several months, has suffered massive cost overruns and has made life difficult for those living between Ghatkopar and Versova as the roads have been dug up and structures have come up within meters of existing buildings.
The Mumbai Metro could have showcased Reliance Infrastructure, a company promoted by Anil Ambani, as a construction giant to the world and, in turn, helped it bag more projects in the future. But, as the project makes slow progress, the patience of Mumbaikars is running thin; they are worried also about the fate of the second phase of the project, worth $2.2 billion, that will connect Charkop in North Mumbai to Mankhurd in Central Mumbai via Bandra. This comes at a time when the Delhi Airport Express Metro controversy has flared up.
The Metro, which connects the New Delhi railway station to the Indira Gandhi International Airport through an express link, had to suspend service in July this year after the line failed in safety audits. Reliance Infrastructure now wants to exit the project citing financial non-viability. (The daily traffic of 25,000, it has alleged, has fallen way short of the projected 40,000.) But Delhi Metro, the operator of the project, is in no mood to listen and has rejected Reliance Infrastructure’s proposal. More info