Don’t expect Metro link to airport before 2020


By Clara Lewis

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s illjudged decision to not connect the airport with the Metro in the project’s first phase has come back to bite it. As it now turns out, the airport may not get the much-needed connectivity till at least 2019.

In a recently released “modified interim development plan” for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), the MMRDA itself laments the absence of a dedicated transport system to and from the airport. It says that, in the absence of a Metro , air travellers are forced to journey to the airport by road, resulting in extreme congestion in the vicinity.

“Although the Bandra-Worli Sea Link has reduced travel time by 15 minutes during peak hours, dedicated high-speed Metro rail is required to ensure high volume traffic movement to CSIA,” states the report. By 2025, it adds, 40 million passengers will use the airport , with travellers making 6 lakh trips to the airport every day.

Damningly, the MMRDA is the planning authority for the airport as well as the Mass Rapid Transport System (Metro). Critics say the airport case is an unmistakable example of paucity of foresight and, indeed, planning.

The opportunity to provide the airport better connectivity was squandered in 2006. Till then, the planning authority had intended to create a branch from Metro-Idesigned to run from Ghatkopar to Versova via the Western Express Highway—to the airport. But when Metro-I bids were awarded, the plan was modified and the idea dropped. Simultaneously, the MMRDA announced the second and third lines of the Metro and declared that Metro-III—from Colaba to SEEPZ—will have three stations along the airport.

As it happens, the deadline for Metro-I’s completion has been put off again and again. Today, while MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana is confident that it will be running by next year, activists believe it is unlikely to be commissioned before 2015. More info