You may not be able to ride on Mumbai Metro by year-end as promised.
The latest hurdle in commissioning the Versova-Ghatkopar corridor is the issue of passenger safety, with the Mumbai police and the contractor, Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), caught in a tussle.
The police insist MMOPL should engage a paramilitary force like in the case of Delhi Metro instead of a private agency, but the latter has said the cost involved will be exorbitant, and there was no such provision in its agreement with the state government.
With Lok Sabha elections approaching, the state government is keen to open the 7-km stretch, from Versova to Airport Road, of 11.4-km-long Metro corridor before the end of the year.
However, sources say the deadline may not be met as the police are not ready to compromise on the security of passengers, with modes of mass transport like the railways being on the hit list of terrorist groups.
To resolve the issue, chief secretary JK Banthia recently called a special meeting with the implementing agency MMRDA, MMOPL and the police.
But not much came of it as MMOPL officials conveyed that engaging security of paramilitary force like the CISF would incur them huge expenses.
Sources said MMOPL also clarified this requirement is not mentioned in the contractual terms and conditions, and hence MMRDA should bear the cost.
To find a way out, another meeting was called at Mumbai police’s protection branch office at Fort on the same day, but MMOPL official did not attend.
A senior police official said: “We understand the project is in the larger public interest, but we cannot compromise the safety of passengers in present threat perspectives.”
Madhukar Pandey, additional commissioner of police confirmed they had submitted detailed guidelines for security on Metro, including engagement of CISF, but refused to disclose further details, saying, “We are extending all support to MMOPL for finalising security arrangements.”
MMRDA commissioner UPS Madan said a meeting will be held between MMOPL and the state government “to discuss who will bear the cost for security service from a central security agency.”
An MMOPL spokesperson said: “Regarding terrorism, the responsibility lies with the government, and MMOPL is working with them on this matter. No decision has been taken by the state government in this regard.”