Kanjurmarg plot for Mumbai Metro car shed can curb costs, save land: MMRDA commissioner RA Rajeev
A month after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced moving the Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) car shed from Aarey Milk Colony to Kanjurmarg, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) commissioner RA Rajeev in an exclusive interview with Tanushree Venkatraman said the plan is to transform the 102-acre plot where the depot will come up, into the city’s largest transit hub. MMRDA is the nodal agency for developing all Metro corridors in Mumbai.
Rajeev said the depot at Kanjurmarg will be an operating centre for Metro-3, 6 (Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli) and 4 (Wadala-Kasarwadavali) with an interchange for the proposed line 14 between Kanjurmarg and Badlapur. Rajeev stressed on the fact that the decision is the “most cost-efficient, which also saves land and will boost operation efficiency”.
Rajeev also said despite the pandemic, MMRDA will complete the Metro-2A (Dahisar-DN Nagar) and Metro-7 (Dahisar E-Andheri-E) within the estimated cost and the lines will be made operational by May 2021.
Excerpts from the interview:
The Centre has made a claim on the Kanjurmarg plot where the state has proposed to shift the Metro-3 car-shed. Will this affect the project?
All the claims have to be reviewed by the revenue department of the Maharashtra government. The revenue department and the district collector have handed over the plot to MMRDA post due diligence and examining all records. We are not affected so far and we are going ahead with the work. I visited the site on Wednesday; road construction is on at the periphery and we also discussed plans to integrating the car sheds for Metro lines 3, 4 and 6. Ultimately, we have to look at public interest. Around 80-90 lakh population of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) will be affected by these decisions. The state has not taken the decision only about Metro-3, but also for Metro-6, for which we had no depot land even though there was a cabinet decision zeroing in on Kanjurmarg plot as the depot for the line.
Will the integration mean major changes in the plans for the three Metro lines?
Technically, anything is possible. System integration can be done. In 2015, MMRDA had written a letter to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (which is executing line 3) stating that Metro-3 and Metro-6 can be integrated. Kanjurmarg will be the largest transit hub in Mumbai. It will cater to almost 90 lakh commuters if you take lines 3, 4, 6 and 14 into account. We have 102 acre of land here while the biggest issue in Mumbai is scarcity of land. If constructed separately, we will need 30 hectares in Aarey, 43 hectares in Mogharpada and 20 hectares for line 6, which will total 93 hectares of land (close to 229 acres). Wouldn’t it be more efficient to construct one depot for all three lines? It is cost-efficient, operation-efficient, and we save on land. We can manage more trains at this depot with lesser staff and inventory. This is an opportunity to create an operation and control centre here. The ground and first floor can be the depot, with the control centre on the second floor.
Is MMRDA reconsidering its decision to construct the Metro Bhavan at Aarey?
Not yet, but if we can build an efficient control centre catering to three lines in Kanjurmarg, nobody will say no to the idea.
What is the status of MMRDA’s plan to build a Metro-4 depot at Mogharpada?
Though the land at Mogharpada is government land, there are a lot of allottees and class-2 landholders there. We faced the issue of encroachment too. There was resistance to a joint inspection conducted by the collector. We would have had to spend ₹1,500-₹2,000 crore to acquire that land parcel. We will save this cost also if we integrate and build the line-4 depot at Kanjurmarg.
Metro-1 has been facing losses since its inception. There are talks of MMRDA taking over the line. What is the status?
Reliance Infra, which manages line 1 wants to hand it over as they are facing financial issues owing to the pandemic. We cannot let such a huge public project drag. Since MMRDA has a stake of 26%, we can take over the operations. The contention is to arrive at the right estimate. There will be a valuation committee and we have also hired a consultant for it.
How has the pandemic financially affected the Metro projects? How will MMRDA bear the civil construction cost of the lines?
So far, as line 7 and 2A are concerned, we are not going for any cost revision. As far as funding for the civil construction of other lines is concerned, the key lies in starting revenue operations for these two lines as soon as possible. Once we start it, we can earn some revenue. The other model we are also working on is to use these two lines for equity-financing. We can pose the projected income to agencies for upfront funding. We have also submitted a transit-oriented development (TOD) policy to the state government through which we can develop areas around the stations. Additionally, we are planning to develop Wadala as the next Bandra-Kurla Complex, which will provide us with revenue.
How will MMRDA address last-mile connectivity?
We have taken last-mile connectivity into account since the beginning. We will be providing multi-modal integration at each of the upcoming Metro stations. Before the lockdown, we also started bike services at Jagruti Nagar Metro station, which a lot of people have been using. We also had a competition for new mobility services to come up with ideas for last-mile connectivity. We are now planning to implement some of these ideas.
What major projects can Mumbaiites look forward to in 2021?
Lines 2A and 7 will be made operational by May 2021. We will also complete work on the Kalanagar flyover and the Chheda Nagar junction improvement along the Eastern Express Highway.