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Metro project moves ahead as poll station nears

india Updated: Aug 11, 2009 01:07 IST
Zeeshan Shaikh

In a classic case of seeking political mileage before the upcoming assembly elections, the state government is holding up the bhoomipujan (foundation-laying ceremony) of the second Metro corridor — the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line. Work on the project is not likely to start before 2010.

The bhoomipujan of the 32-km long line will be undertaken at the hands of President Pratibha Patil and will be attended by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Governor S.C. Jamir, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan besides a bulk of ruling party Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly.

Despite the symbolic bhoomipujan, work will not commence until requisite clearances for the project are received.

“We have to sign the concession agreement. There are also some design clearances and other documentation that need to be carried out before we begin work on the project,” said a senior Reliance Infrastructure official.

Reliance officials said it would take five years to finish the Rs 11,000-crore project.

However work on the project will start only when the complete financial closure for the project is completed, which will take nine months. Financial closure is when all agreements, permits and loans for the project are in place.

Reliance officials said this is unlikely to happen before 2010.

“We are confident of developing the project five years from the date of financial closure,” Lalit Jalan, chief executive officer and director of Reliance Infrastructure said.

Meanwhile, MMRDA officials were at a loss to explain why the bhoomipujan was being undertaken although work was not slated to begin before 2010.

Work on the first Metro line — Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar — started 20 months after its bhoomipujan was conducted in June 2006 at the hands of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but actual work commenced in February 2008.