The Bharatiya Janata Party has asked the railway ministry to come clean on its plans to build elevated rail corridors in Mumbai, and has also demanded a white paper on the status of ongoing projects to improve suburban railway services.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister of state for railways Ram Naik on Monday termed the elevated corridor plan a ‘mirage’. He said there was need for a debate on such cost-heavy projects so that they need not meet the same fate as Mumbai metro, which is far from ready.
The railways had proposed three elevated corridors — Churchgate-Virar, CST-Panvel and CST-Kalyan — as a solution for future transport problems. While it is pushing for construction of the Rs. 21,000-crore Churchgate-Virar route, it has decided to go slow on others.
Hindustan Times on Sunday reported the doubts being raised over the feasibility of the elevated corridors.
Talking to media in the light of recent news reports that the railway board had refused to approve pre-feasibility of the 55-km CST-Kalyan elevated corridor, Naik said he had written to CP Joshi, who holds charge of the railway ministry, requesting for a meeting on the issue.
Naik alleged that railway ministers in Manmohan Singh’s government had ignored the Mumbai suburban system. He said Mumbai was witnessing slow progress of suburban railway projects such as the MUTP, and project cost of its first phase had gone up by Rs. 1049 crore; a year after conversion from direct to alternate current, Western Railway local trains are still running at 80 km per hour.
Naik said that the railway ministry should set out the problems and decide which projects should be taken up on priority basis, or decide whether elevated corridors are necessary.