Citizens protesting the elevated metro will use Delhi Metro managing director, E Sreedharan’s, critique of the funding model for Mumbai Metro to take their fight against the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority forward.
Sreedharan, during his recent visit to the city last week, had criticised the PPP model, calling it “ineffective”.
Residents of the western suburbs have also dug out a letter Sreedharan had written to then chief secretary, Johny Joseph, in 2009, warning him that a public-private partnership (PPP) model for the Metro would be too costly and could derail the project.
The letter, that Hindustan Times has a copy of, states: “If a Metro is undertaken by a private party, governments will not extend duty and tax concessions, which would alone make the Metro costlier by 12 to 15 per cent. This, together with the tendency to pad up the project cost with a view to siphon funds, makes a build-operate-transfer project costlier by 25 to 30 per cent.”
The citizens will use this letter to argue for an underground metro when it meets MMRDA officials on November 9. Sherley Singh, Juhu resident and a member of the Movement for Underground Metro, said, “This letter just goes to show that if the MMRDA would have paid heed to his advice, the city could have had an underground Metro at a far lesser cost than what the MMRDA suggests it is now.”
Architect Nitin Killawalla, one of the main protestors against the elevated Metro, said: “Overriding this opinion, the MMRDA decided to go ahead with a PPP model and is now caught in a bind over the Centre’s refusal of funds. This has delayed the project.”
The Centre recently rejected MMRDA’s demand for viability gap funding – grant given by the government to make project commercially viable – for the second route from Colaba to Bandra saying the cost as too high.
MMRDA officials said Sreedharan’s letter does not prove how an underground metro will be feasible at this stage.
“Ideally, such projects should be done by public funding. But if both the state and the Centre are not ready to fund these projects, we have no option but to go for the PPP model,” Ashwini Bhide, MMRDA’s joint metropolitan commissioner, said. “These arguments can be made by people who never travel by public transport. That’s why they don’t understand the necessity for a better transport system.”
Residents of the western suburbs have been opposing the MMRDA’s plans to build an elevated 32-km long Metro line from Charkop to Mankhurd through Bandra. The MMRDA has been saying an underground Metro along this line is not technically and financially feasible and will cost Rs 400 crore more for every km than the elevated line.