In the last two decades, Delhi has built a network of metro lines spanning 193 kilometres. Mumbai has managed to develop one metro corridor, of 11.4 kms.
As Mumbai’s first metro service completes one year, questions are being raised over the failure of state authorities to plan and execute big-ticket infrastructure projects.
According to the 2004 metro master plan, nine metro lines, spanning 160km, were to be operational in Mumbai by 2014-15. However, negotiating hurdles ranging from availability of land to its acquisition, lack of funds to various permissions, the nodal agency for the metro projects – the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) – has so far managed to make only the Versova- Andheri- Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor (Metro 1) operational.
The second, the Charkop- Bandra- Mankhurd line (Metro 2), was supposed to be ready by 2012. However, it had to be scrapped owing to differences between the MMRDA and the operator over issues such as the unavailability of land and green hurdles. In search of a plot for the metro depot, the MMRDA has extended the line till Dahisar.
Residents had opposed both Metro 1 and Metro 2, saying the elevated corridors would pass too near their buildings. The Airport Authority of India objected to the Metro 2, saying the corridor could interfere with flight movement.
The corridors’ alignment has also been problematic. After the first corridor, a consensus was arrived at to take the Metro 2, Metro 3 (Colaba- Bandra- Seepz) and Metro 4 (Wadala- Ghatkopar-Thane- Kasarvadavali) underground, to overcome the issue of land crunch. However, it has led to a multi-fold hike in the projects’ cost, making their funding a problem.
“All the metro projects have been delayed, which has led to significant increase in their cost,” said Jagdeep Desai, transport expert.
A state official involved with the project said the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode selected by the government complicates matters. “In Delhi, one man, E Shreedharan, was in control and ran operations with an iron hand. The project was financed by the state and one did not have to rely on a private partner. PPP agreements are very tricky,” he said.
MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said the projects would be completed as soon as possible. “Because of some amendments and extensions in the master plan, the implementation has been delayed. However, we are working on completing the plan.”