It may take four more years to be completed, but the second phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-II) has already overshot its budget by Rs3,801 crore — or 89% more than the original cost of the project. The cost of MUTP-II, which aims to improve the city’s rail network, has gone up because of the changed scope of work and inflation, according to the railway planning and execution body Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC).
Activists, however, blame delay in execution, shoddy planning and lack of interdepartmental communication, for the massive cost overrun. The project was launched in 2010.
MRVC documents reveal the project cost of MUTP-II skyrocketed to Rs8087.11 crore till 2016, from the original cost of Rs4281 crore. Of the 13 sub-projects under MUTP-II, the Thane-Diva 5th and 6th line project has witnessed the highest cost escalation (283% ), followed by the now-completed power traction conversion project (254%).
Other projects that have witnessed more than 100% cost escalation are — Kurla-CST 5th and 6th line, extension of Harbour line until Goregaon, building stabling lines for suburban locals, Borivli-Mumbai Central 6th line and maintenance facility for suburban trains. The cost escalations for these projects are — 143%, 121%, 114% and 112% respectively, the documents claim.
Station improvement and trespass control measures, undertaken to reduce deaths on tracks, has also seen 99% cost escalation. The cost to procure 72 twelve-coach trains fitted with Bombardier electrical system has gone up by 34% (Rs780 crore). Railways paid Rs3,104 crore even though the original cost was Rs2,324 crore. Trials of MUTP-II locals were also delayed by more than a year.
There was also 14% cost escalation in rehabilitation and resettlement of project-affected people. The only component of MUTP II that has not witnessed any cost overrun is ‘technical assistance and institutional strengthening’. This helped save Rs 5 crore.
Prabhat Ranjan, spokesperson of MRVC, said new works such as elevated decks at Borivli and Andheri instead of normal platforms, procurement of stainless steel instead of regular steel, provisions of escalators and lifts in place of staircases, new platforms at Diva station on the fast line were not part of the original project. The project cost shot up, as these things were added later on.
“Besides, a delay in the encroachment removal process and inflated material cost is also responsible for cost escalation of the project,” said Ranjan. Activists, however, disagree with MRVC officials. “The change in scope of work might have increased project cost by Rs200-500 crore, but it certainly won’t double the overall cost,” said Rajeev Singhal, a passenger activist.
They have also blamed delays in implementing the projects, besides shoddy planning, execution and a lack of proper inter-departmental communication for the delay. “Around 80 lakh suburban passengers in the city will have to bare the financial burden of this cost overrun, for which implementing agencies are responsible,” said Subhash Gupta, another passenger activist.
Daily more than 75 lakh passengers travel on the suburban network. Commuters are harrowed owing to a lack of infrastructure, frequent train disruptions and overcrowding. The MRVC completed the first phase of MUTP in 2011, but the daily commute of lakhs of passengers is still not smooth. Besides this, more than 3,300 people lost their lives on the suburban tracks.