This is the question every Mumbaikar must be asking as Bangalore welcomes its Namma Metro today. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the Mumbai Metro on June 21, 2006.
Three days later, he was in Bangalore, laying the foundation stone for the metro there. But while Bangalore becomes the third Indian city after Kolkata and New Delhi to have a metro, Mumbaikars continue to wait.
From permission problems with the railways for crossing over the suburban lines at Andheri to land-acquisition woes, Mumbai’s first metro line between Versova and Ghatkopar has seen deadline after deadline go by without being met. While ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan has predicted that the line will prove to be a financial disaster, top state officials agree in private that selecting this particular alignment (with the maximum impediments) for Mumbai’s first metro was a big blunder by the city’s planners.
Mumbaikars want answers now. They are sick and tired of hearing every resident and visiting politician say that ‘Mumbai will get world-class infrastructure’. Officials and planners will always have reasons for the delays. Arguments like ‘road conditions and impediments in Bangalore are very different from those in Mumbai’, or that ‘it will be unfair to compare Mumbai and Bangalore as the latter is a planned city’ are certain to be thrown at us. But Mumbaikars are in no mood for such excuses.
Finally, Sreedharan, whose Delhi Metro Rail Corporation designed the Mumbai and Bangalore metros, has always criticised the public-private partnership model for the metro. And guess which city was the first to implement this model? Mumbai!