Mumbai’s wait for metro rail seems to be never ending. In February 2008, the residents were promised that the city’s first air-conditioned urban transport system would be functional in 30 months. But, 44 months and six metro lines —five in Delhi and one in Bangalore — later, the promise remains unfulfilled.
The delay in the 11.07-km metro line project, estimated to cost Rs 2,356 crore, can be attributed to bad planning, conflict with the railways, congested roads and opposition from citizens’ groups. “The commercial operations on the metro line would be possible by November 2012, provided all statutory clearances are received,” the Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) told the state at its meeting in September.
Admitting that they need to set a realistic deadline, an official from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said: “In Bangalore, a 7.5-km stretch on relatively less congested roads was constructed in 54 months. In Mumbai, we will be completing a 11.07-km line on a busy stretch in 57 months.” Rahul Asthana, metropolitan commissioner, said: “It is a first-of-its-kind project in the city. It has been a learning curve for all of us. We can promise that by the last quarter of 2012, Mumbaiites will be riding in the metro rail.”
The MMOPL has, so far, missed five deadlines for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro, work on which began in 2008. As per the terms of the agreement, the construction work should have been completed by March 2011. But the failure of the state and the MMOPL in seeking permission to build a bridge over Andheri railway station has delayed the project.
Ratnakar Gaikwad, chief secretary of the state, has asked the MMOPL to expedite the work so that the metro can be opened to the public by August 2012. There are also talks of opening the metro partially, before August.