Approvals for key transport projects from the State government have set the ball rolling on much-needed enhancements to the city’s public transport system
Reeling under the pressure of an ever-expanding city and its population, Mumbai’s public transport system is in dire need of an upgrade. But over the last month, crucial projects that have been in the pipeline for years have finally inched forward.
Earlier this week, the State Cabinet gave its sanction for a slew of rail infrastructure projects worth ₹54,777 crore under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3A (MUTP-3A), paving the way for further approvals at the Central level. And in November, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis approved the detailed project reports of three Metro lines.
These two were among a list of transport projects approved in the last few months. In all, over ₹2 lakh crore will be spent in the coming decade on projects that will provide the much-needed upgrade.
Metro on track
While several projects are still on paper and await approvals, work on some has started. The three Metro corridors — 2A, 7 and 3 — are in different stages of completion. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) expects to throw open Metro 7 and Metro 2A next year. The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited is planning to complete 80% of the tunnelling work for Metro 3 by December 2019 and aims to commission it by 2021.
MMRDA has also started preliminary works for Metro 2B and Metro 4 and will completely barricade roads by May 2019.
Bridging regional gaps
Work to strengthen the city’s connectivity with neighbouring cities and towns has also seen some progress. While MUTP-3A awaits a nod from the Centre, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has completed 90% of the joint measurement surveys for three new railway corridors under the ₹10,947 crore MUTP 3: two new lines between Virar and Dahanu, a new rail corridor between Airoli and Kalwa, and a new line between Panvel and Karjat. “We hope to complete the surveys in a week, after which we will begin the process of land acquisition,” a senior MRVC official said.
The Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, meanwhile, is also taking shape, and the general alignment will be visible by May.
The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) is working to commission the first phase of the ₹16,450-crore Navi Mumbai International Airport by December 2019. CIDCO MD Lokesh Chandra said that 65% land development work will be over by January and a contractor will soon be appointed to build the terminal building and runway.
Other key infrastructure projects that have started in the last few months include the Coastal Road being executed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Versova-Bandra Sea Link being executed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation. Geo-technical surveys for both are under way.
With Lok Sabha and Assembly elections slated for next year, the government is pushing to start or at least approve as many projects as it can. At a recent conclave, Mr. Fadnavis said development projects in the city and State would remain on paper unless their implementation was taken seriously. He said most of the projects were conceived 20 years ago, but had not progressed.
Judicious mix needed
Transport expert Ajit Shenoy said the Metro corridors were necessary as the railway corridors are bursting at its seams. He said, however, that the government needs to prepare a comprehensive mobility plan, which includes all forms of transport.
“While this government has done well in starting work on three corridors, it seems to think the Metro is the only solution to all problems. The transport in the city needs to have a judicious mix of all modes, which include buses,” he said.
He said the government and the municipal corporation have neglected the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport, which should be find a prominent place in the plans for the city’s mobility.