Why the Mumbai Metro is far off the track

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By Ninad Siddhaye  www.dnaindia.com

Barely a week ago guardian minister of Mumbai suburbs Mohammad Aarif Naseem Khan made tall promises that the first line of the metro running on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor would be commissioned by November next year.

However, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA’s) accounts of the work on the project paint a grim picture. It has admitted that only 70% of the civil work for alignment and 60% of the civil work for the 12 metro stations have been completed so far.

According to information accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by activist and whistleblower Anil Galgali, Mumbai Metro One is far from being on track. “I was shocked when my RTI application revealed that 60% of work for metro stations and 70% of civil work for the alignment has been completed (see box). This is certainly not old information since the RTI reply is dated October 20, 2011,” said Galgali.

The MMRDA has neither revealed details of escalation of cost due to delay, nor has it put a finger on the deadline. The RTI reply pegs the cost of the project at Rs2,356 crore and states that the MMRDA holds a 26% stake in the first metro project that is being done on a public-private partnership basis.

It adds that the viability gap for the project is about Rs650 crore. The central government is shouldering Rs471 crore of it, while the state as well as the MMRDA will bear the rest.

“However, the authority has failed to clarify cost escalation. When work for this alignment had started in February 2008, the Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium had claimed that it would finish work well before March 2012, which is the construction period as per the agreement. However, now since the work has been delayed because of several reasons, there has to be a huge cost escalation. The MMRDA has not bothered to give details of the same,” said Galgali. More info

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