By Ninad Siddhaye www.dnaindia.com
Just as the work for the first two metro lines continues to crawl, officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are yet to figure out the funding pattern for the first underground metro in the city running between Colaba and Bandra.
While the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JICA) continues to be the leading agency wanting to fund this third line, they have also offered the added incentiveof “free technical consultancy” once MMRDA rolls the project.
Confirming the development MMRDA metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said that a final decision would require a nod from the central government.
“Any funding from an international agency requires a nod from the central government’s Department of Economic Affairs (DEA). The authority has been planning a partially underground metro all this while. However, after the Mahalaxmi car depot site being ruled out, we are contemplating a completely underground metro —as advised by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in the original metro master plan. Once a detailed blue print of this line is ready, only then we can think of the funding patterns,” Asthana told DNA.
International agencies including the JICA as well as the World Bank have shown great interest in funding the Mumbai metro. It is now certain that the theory of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) used in earlier two routes will not work in the 20 odd km long Colaba-Bandra metro.
“Even the central government has refused to fund the huge viability gap for the third line. Now the authority has to decide whether to take the complete responsibility of the line or to construct the civil work and hand over to a private entity to construct the rail lines and run the services. Also, the financial assistance has to come through the centre, he said.
“Although the final decision is yet to be arrived at, the proposal of free technical consultancy from JICA surely makes them the front runners in the race for financing the Metro-III that will run between Colaba and Bandra,” concluded Asthana.