Suburban infrastructure projects connecting the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have got a major boost in the budget announced on Thursday. The Union railway ministry has made a provision of Rs636 crore for the city’s railway infrastructure projects, besides making giving its nod to the CST-Panvel elevated corridor and the Virar-Diva-Panvel quadrupling project, in the 2017-18 budget.
The Virar-Diva-Panvel quadrupling project will improve east-west connectivity in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), easing pressure on existing suburban corridors. The CST-Panvel elevated corridor, which is touted as a fast corridor for the harbour line, will provide suburban connectivity to the proposed Navi Mumbai airport.
Estimated to cost around Rs8,700 crore, the Vasai-Diva-Panvel quadrupling project, is the city’s biggest railway project in terms of project cost, while the CST-Panvel corridor will prove to be an engineering challenge for railways. The ministry has made a token budgetary allocation of Rs10 lakh each for both the projects.
Although the Virar-Diva-Panvel project is awaiting approval from the Union cabinet and the CST-Panvel elevated corridor is still to get the NITI Aayog’s approval, railway officials said once the budgetary allocation is made for any project, they consider it a sanctioned one.
They see this as a major boost for the city’s railway infrastructure. “The CST-Panvel elevated corridor and Virar-Panvel will be a centre- and state-funded project. The detailed project report (DPR) for both these projects is ready and awaiting sanction from the Union government,” said Prabhat Sahai, managing director and chairman of MRVC.
In the railway budget copy, which was made public on Friday, Mumbai has received Rs639.50 crore for ongoing Metropolitan Transportation projects, including the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). MUTP-II and MUTP-III have been allotted Rs137 crore and Rs411.50 crore respectively. Apart from this, the Belapur-Seawood-Uran project got Rs66 crore.
MUTP-II, worth Rs7,300 crore, is partially complete and under it, the city has received 70 new locals, besides DC-AC conversion on the Central line and 12-car locals on the Harbour line. Under MUTP-III, new projects such as the 3rd and 4th line between Virar-Dahanu (63km), Airoli-Kalwa (4km), which will provide easier access for suburban commuters between Kalyan and Panvel and the doubling of Panvel-Karjat line (28km) are likely to kick-start soon.
The Kalyan-Kasara third line project, which is out of Metropolitan Transportation Project’s list, received only Rs20 crore. The state government had sought Rs200 crore for it.
Mumbai also got fund allocation of Rs83 crore under passenger amenities, to both Central and Western railway, according to railway officials. The fund will be used for better facilities for suburban commuters at stations, which includes toilets, escalators, foot overbridges (fob), drinking water facility, cover-over-platform and platform raising.
The Central Railway (CR) Mumbai division has also received Rs24 lakh to raise and resurface 48 platforms at 33 stations. The CR has been also sanctioned Rs6.5crore towards various protection works on the Neral-Matheran narrow gauge line such as a boundary wall.
Railway activists, however, were disappointed with the budget. “The railway budget is good for rail network expansion in Maharashtra, but it has been disappointing for Mumbai. Only two major infrastructure projects have received budgetary allocation. Priority should have been given to installing escalators, constructing FOBs on suburban stations,” said Subhash Gupta, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) Central Railway (CR).
According to a railway official, Rs5,958 crore has been sanctioned for Maharashtra. Besides two rail infrastructure projects in Mumbai, four more railway line projects got approval, including Pune-Lonavla 3rd and 4th line. Other three projects include Jeur-Ashti, Phaltan to Pandharpur and Hatkanangale-Ichalkarangi railway lines.