There could be more trouble in store for the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor on Western Railway as the estimated cost of the project likely to go up by around Rs. 1,200 crore after authorities decided on an underground route along the Bandra-Jogeshwari section last week.
The projected cost of the 63-km-long Churchgate-Virar corridor had earlier shot up to Rs. 21,000 crore from Rs. 15,000 crore due to a three-year delay in implementation and in part also because the railway authorities decided to keep it underground for about 8 kms between Churchgate and Mahalaxmi.
In last Saturday’s meeting between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and chairman of the Railway Board Vinay Mittal, a decision was taken to realign the project for going underground along the 8.5-km stretch between Bandra and Jogeshwari to avoid hassles of rehabilitation and resettlement and private land acquisition, and also so that the project can be completed project in the stipulated time.
The authorities expect the project to be completed six years after the contractor is finalised.
But the decision has come at a cost to the public exchequer. “By taking the underground route for around 8.5 kms at the Bandra-Jogeshwari stretch, the cost is expected to go up by about Rs. 1,200 crore,” said Mahesh Kumar, general manager, WR. He added that he had inspected the stretch along with state chief secretary Jayantkumar Bhantia before re-fixing the alignment.
Around 100 structures were obstructing the elevated corridor’s alignment along this stretch. The authorities say that by going underground, they have avoided rehabilitation and resettlement of the inhabitants of these properties, which could have delayed implementation.
Kumar also said that realigning of the project won’t be costlier than land acquisition, and rehabilitation. “My anticipation is that it would have cost over Rs. 2,000 crore,” he said.
Earlier, the corridor between Mahalaxmi and Borivli was planned to be elevated, except the 2.2-km stretch between Santacruz and Vile Parle, which was to be at ground level due to the airport.
Railway authorities say they still need to acquire land at certain places, but they trying to bring it down to the minimum.