While Mumbaiites will rejoice the opening of the city’s first Metro line, uncertainty looms over the other two proposed lines. It could be another six to seven years before the city gets another operational Metro line.
As part of the Mumbai makeover project, three Metro lines were planned by the state to provide better east-west connectivity and a parallel mass transport system to the suburban railways.
The first line will connect Versova in the western suburbs to Ghatkopar, a central suburb. The second line, Charkop-BandraMankhurd, has been given to Reliance Infra to build, but is stuck owing to various reasons and is now being redesigned.
The third line, Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ, which is the most ambitious and costliest as it is supposed to be fully underground, is still to get off the blocks.
Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd corridor was put on paper in 2009, when the contract to build it was awarded to the Reliance Infraheaded Mumbai Metro Transport Private Ltd (MMTPL). Work on the line is yet to take off mainly owing to difference between t he Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and MMTPL over land availability.
While both sides have started unofficial talks to terminate the existing contract, MMRDA wants the line to be built underground with an extension till Dahisar, a recommendation made by consultancy firm RITES. As going underground with the line would mean expenditure up to Rs. 30,000 crore, MMRDA has plans to approach Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) or World Bank to seek a loan.
According to sources, the government is keen to terminate the contract before the code of conduct kicks in for the assembly polls scheduled for October.
With the project going back to the drawing table, work on the second line may not begin before 2020-21, said MMRDA officials.
Meanwhile, the 33.5km Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line had hit rough weather last year after the tendering process was delayed as the government failed to form the mandatory joint venture company for developing the project.
Fourteen consortiums comprising global companies have expressed their interests in the project. The JICA has decided to give a loan amounting to 57% of the project cost for what is the city’s first proposed underground line. The project cost is pegged at Rs. 24,000 crore. The MMRDA expects this line to be operational by 2019.