Under flak for the tardy progress on its elevated Metro lines, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has now come up with an ambitious plan for extending the Metro line. The planning authority has proposed the city’s first underground Metro line, which will run from Colaba to Bandra till Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ).
The planning authority officials recently met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in an attempt to seek state government’s support for expediting work on this project.
“We have proposed the underground Metro from Colaba to SEEPZ. The presentation was made to the CM so that we get the government nod to expedite the project,” a senior MMRDA official said.
The 33 km Metro line will run completely underground and will be built at an estimated cost of Rs16,200 crore.
However, unlike the two Metro lines, this will not be built on a public-private partnership basis. The line will be built by the planning authority with nearly 50% funds procured by way of loan from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
Even though building an underground Metro will be a costly exercise, MMRDA officials believe that working underground will cause minimum discomfort to the city’s residents and problems of regulatory clearances will be minimised.
The MMRDA is already reeling under criticism as work on its elevated Metro project is still incomplete. The first Metro line, Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar, was expected to be complete by March 2011 but is unlikely to be operational before 2012.
Similarly, work on the second Metro line — Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd — was expected to start early this year but the project has not taken off due to lack of regulatory clearances.
Reliance Infrastructure, the agency which is building the Metro line, had written a letter to the state government complaining that delays in getting clearances were making this project financially unviable.
Many others have expressed concern over construction of an elevated Metro line in a city like Mumbai as narrow roads here will only add to traffic congestion.
The MMRDA was earlier planning to build a 20-km-long Metro line, from Colaba to Bandra. This line was supposed to be underground for the first 10km, from Colaba to Mahalaxmi, and then elevated on the remaining stretch, from Mahalaxmi till Bandra.
The planning body decided to extend the line from Bandra till the international airport as it hopes to reap in rich returns from this investment. This Metro line will connect city’s prominent business districts such as Nariman Point, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Andheri MIDC, SEEPZ and the international airport.