It has been a decade since the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation suggested nine routes for the Mumbai Metro, but the city’s planning agency is still not sure how to build the lines and what routes to follow.
The latest route worrying the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials is the eight-km underground stretch from Bandra-Kurla Complex to the airport because of the cost factor.
“Since the Metro on this stretch will be limited only for the airport passengers, we are not sure if we can spend nearly Rs 4,000 crore for this route,” said Ratnakar Gaikwad metropolitan commissioner.
As an underground Metro line costs Rs 600 crore per km compared to Rs 200 per km for an elevated line, the MMRDA is cautious about all the underground projects.
Gaikwad said the MMRDA is still contemplating whether this line would be underground or elevated.
The Centre had recently refused funding for the Colaba-Bandra underground Metro line because it was “too costly”.
In 2000, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had suggested nine Metro lines for the Mumbai. The total length of the system was 146.5 km, of which 32.5 km was to be built underground.
However, when MMRDA started implementing the project, it found that the underground projects were highly capital intensive.
Though the Centre has promised to provide a Viability Gap Funding of up to 40% of the project cost, MMRDA officials claim this funding component for the underground lines are greater than 40%. Viability Gap Funding is the amount given by the government to any private company, which is building public infrastructure to make the project commercially viable.
MMRDA officials had even rushed to the secretary urban development in New Delhi seeking a raise in the 40% Viability Gap Funding limit, but the Centre denied any additional fundings.
Worried that private parties would be unwilling to invest in such capital-intensive projects, the MMRDA then quietly decided to alter the routes of the nine proposed Metro lines and even drop some.
The first to be axed may be the Rs 2,187-crore Sewri Prabhadevi line. This 3.5 km underground stretch was the costliest proposed Metro line, with each kilometer costing Rs 624 crore compared to Rs 210 crore per km for elevated lines.
The MMRDA will also change the alignment of the Hutatma Chowk-Ghatkopar-Mulund line and convert it into Carnac Bundar-Wadala-Ghatkopar-Mulund-Thane line.
It also plans to extend the Andheri (East)-Dahisar (East) line up to the airport.