After waiting for nearly three years for work to commence on the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro line, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) may finally nudge the contractor Reliance Infrastructure to start work.
“We will ask Reliance to commence work on the project at the earliest. If R Infra is unable to start, we cannot keep waiting,” metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said. This comes against the backdrop of last week’s developments when the agency asked the government to scrap the deal with R Infra to build the Worli-Haji Ali sea link.
The Metro project seems to have got stuck because of lack of adequate clearances from the environment ministry. The plots identified by MMRDA for the car depot at both places fall under the coastal regulatory zone. The ministry had given a conditional clearance to the depots. However, Reliance and MMRDA claim the ministry has laid down conditions that make the project a non-starter.
The MMRDA now says work should now begin as per the conditions laid down by the ministry. “The clearances of the environment ministry are in place. It is now up to the company to start work,” Asthana said.
However, Reliance officials claimed it is impossible to start work without a clear land for the depots. They also claim building a depot as per the ministry’s conditions would increase the cost of the project manifold, making it financially unviable.
However, MMRDA’s and Reliance’s stand on the project is seen as public posturing before the deal is finally called off.
Both, the MMRDA and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan have been categorical about how an underground Metro is better than an elevated line. There are indications the contract may be called off with the MMRDA planning an underground Metro on the same stretch.