State to revive unified transport body for city

  • Kailash Korde, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2015 00:38 IST

The state government is all set to revive the dormant Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA), an umbrella organisation to ensure better coordination among the nearly 17 agencies undertaking the Mumbai makeover project.

The authority, inspired by Transport for London, was set up in 2008 to enhance public transport in the city, including the planning of big-ticket projects and cutting down on red tape. It held its fourth meeting on Thursday at the state secretariat. The authority’s last meeting was held in 2011. The 24-member body, chaired by the chief secretary, will now be seen in a new avatar with more statutory powers and separate funding.

The need for such an empowered authority had first been highlighted by Hindustan Times in its September 3, 2014 edition, when transport experts and politicians had — at a roundtable conference held as part of HT’s Unclog Mumbai campaign — termed it as a necessity for the city.

In India, cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru already have unified transport bodies.
Sources said a draft bill to set up UMMTA is ready and has given the authority wide-ranging powers to decide on all aspects of transport — from finalising passenger routes to fixing fares, parking policies and toll agreements.

“UMMTA will primarily aim for seamless mobility for commuters in the city and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), across transport modes — from the Metro to the proposed water transport — like all global cities. We are also mulling over the legal framework to give the body more powers, which is a reform suggested by the Government of India. A draft bill will be circulated to get opinions from all departments first and later the public,’’ said chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya.

He said the authority will look at everything, including a better mobility plan to decongest the city.
Kshatriya also set up a core committee of the body that will meet once in a month to review transport issues, while he will hold quarterly meetings.

The bill is expected to be tabled in the monsoon session of the state legislature. On the agenda for the authority is the implementation of a comprehensive transport plan for the MMR, integration of regional and city land use plans within the transport plan, allocation of funds for projects, bringing unanimity between various agencies. The state also plans to bring in greater citizen participation in the UMMTA by involving transport experts and calling for public suggestions.

“It is one of the most positive steps that could transform MMR because an efficient transport system will trigger growth and development in the region,” said Sulakshana Mahajan, urban planner and transport expert.

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