Mumbai’s Metro-3 runs behind schedule
The HC in October restrained the tree authority from taking any decisions on cutting trees until it has independent experts as nominated members in the authority.
The Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 corridor is likely to face a further delay.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the corridor, needs permission to cut trees in Aarey for construction of a car depot for Metro-3. Their applications, however, are pending with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) tree authority, which has not been functional since October 2018 owing to a Bombay high court (HC) stay.
The HC in October restrained the tree authority from taking any decisions on cutting trees until it has independent experts as nominated members in the authority. The BMC has four experts on the authority and 15 corporators. Although the BMC got 37 applications for the tree authority in February 2019, 32 got rejected.
Zoru Bhathena, a petitioner in the case and activist, said, “The way the BMC called for advertisements was wrong. Candidates are rejected as the civic body put a condition that the experts must be residents of Mumbai. The court has clearly stated the committee must have an equal number of corporators, who know the city, and experts.”
JV Pardeshi, superintendent of gardens, BMC, said close to 70-80 applications are pending since the stay.
When asked if the BMC will issue an advertisement to call for experts again, he said, “It will be as per the high court orders.”
Moreover, the rolling stock for Metro-3 is expected to be delivered by November 2020. The MMRC had awarded contracts for the rolling stock of 248 coaches in September 2018.
Also, the car depot where the rolling stock will be brought in will also take two years to be constructed.
“With the depot not ready on time, there is a high possibility that the rolling stock will remain at the manufacturing unit. The completion of the project on time is now subject to the car depot,” a source close to the developments said.
Rolling stock is tested for close to six months before the commercial operations begin.
With legal hurdles, the MMRC had already revised its deadline for phase-1 (Aarey-Bandra Kurla Complex) of the underground corridor from December 2020 to June 2021.
The project has faced numerous hurdles owing to litigation from environmental groups and citizens against the MMRC’s plan to cut trees to build the car depot within Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai’s green lung.
In addition, an earlier stay by the Bombay high court, disallowing construction work between 10pm and 6am, also slowed down construction.
The MMRC had earlier estimated that a delay of one day would cost ₹4.5 crore to the exchequer.