Mumbai Metro Train- A Saga with enduring delays and Red Tapism

India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world with Mumbai as the financial hub with a population of around 25 million. Great infrastructure viz., public transport, which enables the people to smoothly travel to and fro for work and recreation, is imperative which would increase productivity and the quality of life in the city.

Keeping this in mind an ambitious project for Metro Rail was flagged off in 2006 by Manmohan Singh on lines with Delhi Metro to reduce the traffic congestion.

The project had three phases and was expected to complete in 2021:

Phase 1
Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar
Colaba-Bandra-Charkop
Bandra-Kurla-Mankhurd

Phase 2
Charkop-Dahisar
Ghatkopar-Mulund

Phase 3
BKC-Kanjurmarg via Andheri Andheri East-Dahisar East
Hutatma Chowk-Ghatkopar
Sewri-Prabhadevi

Total project length was 160 km with an estimated cost of INR 19,000 cr. It’s Private-Public partnership (PPP) between MMRDA (26%), Reliance Infra (69%) and Veolia (Residual). Construction work started in 2008 citing to feasibility and cost delays.

Cut to 2014, after 7 years now the testing and trial run is getting completed but that too of only ONE LINE of PHASE 1. The cost of the entire project has also increased to INR 67,000 cr now (+) 250%, ~ 400 Cr per km. Contractor and the government agency keep on parroting the lack of ‘unencumbered ROW’s, underground utilities and a generally dense population in the city excuse for the incessant delays.

Consider Delhi Metro, which was conceptualised and the physical construction began in 1998 by DMRC under Sreedharan. According to Wikipedia, Delhi Metro was planned to be built in phases spread over around 20 years as with each phase having a target of five years and end of one phase marking the beginning of another. Phase I (65 km) and Phase II (125 km) were completed in 2006 and 2011, respectively, and Phase III and Phase IV are scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2021, respectively. Work on Phase III has already started while planning for Phase IV has begun. Ex-chief of DMRC hinted that by the time Phase IV is completed, the city will need Phase V to cope with rising population and transport needs.

With 190 kms of length operational with a capital cost of Rs 200 Cr / km, is one of the cheapest.

When Mumbaikars finally thought that they might be able to have the metro experience, we came to know that there might be more cost and delay in the project. The entry and exits at the various points of several metro stations are near schools, shops, bus stops etc. and will be shifted which would mean increased cost of INR 36 cr and further delay.

Mumbai Metro train is a classic case of bureaucracy and red tapism in India and is a big black mark for a country wanting to compete with other developed countries.

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