Centre derails two multi-crore rail projects under MUTP 3A
The Central government has cancelled the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Panvel elevated fast corridor and the Virar-Vasai-Panvel suburban rail line, as well as reducing the number of air-conditioned local trains from 210 to 191. These projects were part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3A, and were set to cost more than INR21,000 crore ($3.15bn). The decision has been criticised as it comes as infrastructure projects in the region are expanding, including the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, new airport and metro lines.
The Central government has scrapped the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Panvel elevated fast corridor and the Virar-Vasai-Panvel suburban rail line, which could have enhanced the connectivity between Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Palghar.
Additionally, the number of air-conditioned (AC) local trains, which were poised to be procured in the future, had been brought down from 210 to 191, a state government resolution issued on April 11 said.
All these projects were part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-3A and were to be executed at an estimated cost of more than ₹21,000 crore.
Bhushan Gagrani, additional chief secretary, state urban development department, said, “The projects have been scrapped by the Central government on the advice of NITI Ayog.”
The decisions come at a time when the growth of Navi Mumbai and beyond is moving at a faster rate with several infrastructure projects like the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, metro lines, and new airport coming up.
The ₹12,331-crore CSMT-Panvel fast corridor was aimed to give respite to more than 10 lakh daily commuters of the Central Railway who largely depend on the 60-km slow corridor on the Harbour Line. The Thane-Panvel Trans Harbour Line and the Nerul/Belapur-Kharkopar-Uran fourth corridor are the two other options for people residing in Navi Mumbai and Thane.
“Just like the main line connecting Karjat and Kasara, there was also a demand to have a fast corridor connecting Panvel. However, it comes as a shock that the project has been shelved,” Madhu Kotian, president of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, said. “We will take up this issue with authorities since we cannot let go of such an important project.”
As per plans, the proposed elevated fast corridor would have 11 stations and it would have also connected to the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport. The line was supposed to cater to more than 10 lakh commuters by 2031 and 13 lakh by 2041.
Another project connecting the districts of Palghar and Navi Mumbai - the ₹7,184-crore Virar-Vasai-Panvel suburban rail line - has also been scrapped. The corridor was supposed to run parallel to the existing Panvel-Diva-Vasai line of the Central Railway on which shuttle trains and goods trains operate. This rail line was planned to cater to 9.92 lakh daily commuters by 2031 and 17.76 lakh by 2041.
The Centre has also curtailed the number of 12-car AC locals to be procured from 210 to 191, thus reducing the cost of MUTP-3A by another ₹1,572 crore. The initial cost of MUTP-3A was ₹54,777 crore, which now has been trimmed to ₹33,690 crore. Recently, the Maharashtra government sanctioned ₹100 crore for MUTP-3A, while multiple agencies like MMRDA, MCGM, CIDCO, NMMC, and other civic bodies will together pool in ₹13,345 crore.