MMRDA commissioner says transport infrastructure projects in Mumbai will improve quality of life and reduce stress
Mumbai: U.P.S Madan, metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), said in an interview that transport infrastructure projects such as the Eastern Freeway, the Mumbai Metro and the Monorail will improve quality of life and reduce stress by shortening commutes. Edited excerpts:
What is the status of projects such as the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro railway and the Chembur-Jacob Circle (in south central Mumbai) Monorail?
The first phase of the Metro railway—that is between Varsova and Airport junction—will start functioning by September and the Monorail’s first phase, i.e. between Chembur and Wadala, will also become operational around the same time. While the entire first line of Metro rail will become operational by the end of this year, it will take another year for entire Monorail to be ready for use. Another important project—the Santcruz-Chembur link road that will provide much-needed east-west connectivity—will also become operational by end of December. And financial bids for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), which will connect Sewri on the island city and Nhava-Sheva across the creek, will be received by 5 August, and we will require a few more days to finalise the contract.
How will these projects help?
These projects will reduce travel time by half or two-thirds but, more importantly, they will reduce stress levels as today you simply don’t know whether it will take one hour for you to travel from place A to place B or one-and-a-half hours or two hours. So you either take the risk of starting very early or missing an appointment or flight. The projects will also help in the development of various areas across the city. Tomorrow, Chembur would become as high profile as Worli is today.
Which new projects are on MMRDA’s priority list?
The ₹ 23,000 crore line III of the Metro railway and the ₹ 14,000 crore Virar-Alibaug Multinodal corridor, which will comprise rail, metro, mono and road links connecting Virar (a north-western suburb) to the south-eastern tip. The corridor will have eight-lane highways, out of which four lanes will be dedicated for a bus rapid transit system. The Japanese government arm, Japan International Cooperation Agency, has agreed to provide a soft loan for the metro line III project and we are expecting the central government to clear this project by the end of this month. And for the Virar-Alibaug project, work on various surveys and consultations with various multilateral agencies are in progress.
Many of your projects have been delayed, resulting in cost and time overruns. How do you plan to address this?
The major reason behind cost and time overruns is getting right of way for developing these projects and rehabilitating people, removing existing structures including religious ones, shifting utility lines. One can reduce delays by doing proper planning before floating tenders but sometimes delays are unavoidable, like in the case of the Metro railway. Indian Railways took nearly two years to approve the design of the bridge over the Western Railway tracks at Andheri. Similarly, in the case of all these three projects (Eastern Freeway, Monorail and Metro Railway), after starting civil work, we found that, there are some utility lines which can’t be shifted, so we had to change the design of pillars.... (In) Mumbai, if you wait for all these hurdles to get removed before work on the project gets started, they will never start.