Mumbai’s monorail is not such a smooth ride after all, CAG report finds

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 10, 2015 22:23 IST

The structural stability and safety of Mumbai’s monorail — the country’s first — has been questioned in the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) 2014 report.

The CAG has pointed out glaring loopholes in the entire project — right from a nontransparent tendering process to faulty designs and delays by the contractors.

The report slams the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for approving faulty designs that could compromise the Monrail’s durability, and for not pulling up contractors for missing deadlines.

Tabled in the state legislature on Friday, the report has asked the state government to review the Rs 1,923 crore project’s design.

The first phase of the monrail runs 8.93km between Chembur and Wadala. The project will be extended up to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in the second phase.

The monorail’s guideway design does not conform to the axle load, the report has said. A high load could damage the rail tracks. The report also said low quality concrete was used to construct the foundation for the guideway and that expansion joints violate contract specifications.

“Serious deviations indicate oversight by the MMRDA and the project management consultant, raising concerns about the structural stability of the guideway structure and public safety,” the report said.

The CAG report has highlighted several errors in the tendering process: the feasibility study for the project was awarded to Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) in 2008, without inviting a global tender; after the initial bid by Larsen and Toubro and Malaysian firm Scomi Engineering (LTSE) was found to be 93% higher than RITES’ estimate, a new consultant, Louis Berger Group, was asked to reassess the prices.

“Hiring the second consultant after opening the bid price is an irregularity because the consultant was aware of the prices offered by the LTSE consortium and his assessment of the project cost at that stage could have suffered from a confirmation bias,” the report said.

The CAG said the 38-month delay for the first phase of the project, and a 52-month delay for the second phase, has accounted for liquidated damages of Rs 153.15 crore, which MMRDA had levied on LTSE until November 2014.

MMRDA additional commissioner B Venugopal Reddy said, “We have not gone through the report. We will be able to comment only after studying it.”

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