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Underground metro for congested areas

Sustained citizens’ opposition to the elevated metro line seems to have finally paid off.

mumbai Updated: Jun 09, 2011 01:25 IST
Zeeshan Shaikh

Sustained citizens’ opposition to the elevated metro line seems to have finally paid off.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is the planning body, has decided to construct most metro routes underground. Originally, most of the routes were to be constructed as elevated structures.

“There’s a policy shift in the construction of the metro lines. Henceforth, all the metro lines passing through the city’s congested areas will be built underground,” metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said.

This could mean that in busy areas such as Andheri, Dahisar, Ghatkopar and Mulund, the metro will run underground.

The MMRDA decided to change its plans after facing opposition from citizens’ groups over the elevated Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line. Residents complain that the elevated line will not only create traffic problems, it will also be a big nuisance for those living nearby.

However, this line as well as the first line — the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route — will remain elevated. While the Versova line is expected to be operational by mid-2012, the MMRDA said the plan for the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line will not be modified as the agreement has been signed and work is about to begin. “We are working on plans whereby existing lines planned as elevated routes should go underground,” Asthana said.

The MMRDA’s reluctance to build an underground metro stems from the high cost involved; it costs nearly three times more then the elevated line.

The MMRDA has also decided to tweak the original construction model. The Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar and Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd lines are being built on a public-private partnership basis, whereby a private firm constructs the entire structure, including civil work, and also bring in the equipment such as trains and lay lines. The firm is then allowed to recover the cost by running the line for a stipulated number of years.

The MMRDA is now planning to undertake the civil work, including the construction of expensive underground tunnels, on its own and ask private firms to supply the equipment and operate and maintain the lines. “We are looking at following the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation model, of undertaking costly civil work through our own resources and loans from foreign agencies,” an MMRDA official said.