Though delayed by almost 18 months, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has claimed that the country’s first monorail service, between Wadala and Chembur, will be commercially operational by the end of the year.
“The monorail on the Wadala-Chembur stretch will be operational by December 2012,” said metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana.
Doubts are being raised on whether the authority will be able to meet the deadline, as it is yet to get regulatory and safety clearances proving that the monorail is fit to be used for public transit.
A consortium of L&T and SCOMI were given the responsibility of building the Rs. 2,450-crore monorail on a contract basis in 2008. The project has been divided into two parts. While the 8.26km first phase connects Chembur and Wadala, the 11.28km second phase links Wadala to Jacob Circle.
The first phase was to be completed by December 2010, but got delayed owing to tardy planning and sloppy execution. The alignment of the second phase had to be changed to skirt Arthur Road Jail that houses high-profile criminals.
Though most clearance issues have been sorted, the Lalbaug Flyover and the densely populated Currey Road stretch are posing new obstacles.
Meanwhile, the MMRDA officials remained non-committal about the deadline for the completion of the second phase of the monorail from Wadala to Jacob Circle. They, however, maintained that it could take 18 months for the service to get operational.
Criticised for the low carrying capacity of the monorail, the authority also refused to divulge its plans of building other monorail systems despite having a master plan in place. “Only after evaluating the performance of this line, will we decide on other monorail lines,” said Asthana.