To expedite the metro projects in the city, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the state government’s infrastructure planning agency, has decided to communicate directly with citizens through a dedicated website and social media.
The state government has a 2019 deadline to launch several metro projects in and around the city. It has fast-tracked procedures and execution to meet this deadline, which coincides with the state assembly elections. However, projects such as the Colaba-Seepz Metro and the Metro 2 line between Bandra and Andheri have been delayed, in part because of opposition from citizens.
MMRDA’s construction of the Wadala-Chembur monorail route and the Andheri-Ghatkopar metro route had caused huge problems for local residents, who endured damaged drainage systems, bad roads and traffic jams. Delays in their construction, owing in large part to the lethargic attitude of officials, worsened these problems, leading to a trust deficit.
To overcome this, MMRDA has decided to ensure better communication with citizens via the internet. It has planned a dedicated website to provide, among other things, updates on metro projects. Officials believe the move can help MMRDA dissuade NGOs and citizens from protesting or taking it to court.
MMRDA additional commissioner Pravin Darade said, “Citizens will be kept abreast of the latest and upcoming developments through our website.
Anyone will be able to know the current status of construction work in any particular area, our plans for the near future, or changes in traffic routes. We will take all necessary measures to ensure that residents are not affected by construction work.”
Darade said there the website will have a section dedicated to tackling citizen’s grievances. In addition, MMRDA will use other tools such as an email newsletter, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to people, he added.
“If residents are inconvenienced by construction sites nearby, they can approach us through our online portal. We will take corrective action immediately,” said Darade.
Activist advocate Godfrey Pimenta welcomed the move, saying, “In the past, we had to resort to protests since we had no communication with and from MMRDA. However, if MMRDA gives real-time updates through its website, it will really help people.”
MMRDA plans to build a 172-km metro network in and around Mumbai in the next five to six years. The construction of two metro lines between Dahisar and Andheri — Metro 2A and Metro7 — is set to begin in the coming months. Other lines, such as DN Nagar-Mankhurd Metro 2B, Wadala-Thane Metro 4, and the JVLR Metro 6 are expected to take off by early next year. Residents of several areas, especially the Bandra-Andheri belt, have already opposed upcoming metro projects, citing health hazards from their construction. They also say that roads and footpaths will be irreversibly damaged, citing the poor record of state agencies.