Monday, August 9, 2010



Don’t expect Metro link to airport before 2020

 MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's illjudged decision to not connect the airport with the Metro in the project's first phase has come back to bite it. As it now turns out, the airport may not get the much-needed connectivity till at least 2019.

In a recently released "modified interim development plan" for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), the MMRDA itself laments the absence of a dedicated transport system to and from the airport. It says that, in the absence of a Metro , air travellers are forced to journey to the airport by road, resulting in extreme congestion in the vicinity.

"Although the Bandra-Worli Sea Link has reduced travel time by 15 minutes during peak hours, dedicated high-speed Metro rail is required to ensure high volume traffic movement to CSIA," states the report. By 2025, it adds, 40 million passengers will use the airport , with travellers making 6 lakh trips to the airport every day.

Damningly, the MMRDA is the planning authority for the airport as well as the Mass Rapid Transport System (Metro). Critics say the airport case is an unmistakable example of paucity of foresight and, indeed, planning.

The opportunity to provide the airport better connectivity was squandered in 2006. Till then, the planning authority had intended to create a branch from Metro-Idesigned to run from Ghatkopar to Versova via the Western Express Highway—to the airport. But when Metro-I bids were awarded, the plan was modified and the idea dropped. Simultaneously, the MMRDA announced the second and third lines of the Metro and declared that Metro-III—from Colaba to SEEPZ—will have three stations along the airport.

As it happens, the deadline for Metro-I's completion has been put off again and again. Today, while MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana is confident that it will be running by next year, activists believe it is unlikely to be commissioned before 2015.

Metro-II from Charkop to Mankhurd via Bandra is in worse disarray. The Bombay high court recently directed the MMRDA to obtain all clearances before undertaking the project. By all indications, experts say, it is likely to be scrapped.
Metro-III , meanwhile, is still in planning stages. "If it is gets the Centre's approval, work will likely start in 2013 and it is likely to be commissioned by 2019," says Asthana. Around the world, as the CSIA interim report too highlights, all major high-density airports have Metro stations. Architect and activist Nitin Killawala says it was surprising that the MMRDA, as planners, had failed to provide connectivity to the airport and MIDC through the Metro-I line, though it passes close to the areas.

The airport report argues that Metro-I would not have provided the required connectivity to air passengers since its overall planning and operation is intended for daily commuters from Ghatkopar to Versova. Further, it says, most of the airport's passenger traffic originates from south, east and north Mumbai. Since Metro-I does not serve these primary catchment areas, it would not have been helpful in augmenting connectivity to CSIA.

Asthana says the Metro-I route was decided based on the high ridership from Versova to Ghatkopar . He adds that the three underground airport stations were added to Metro-III only on the insistence of the National Facilitation Committee.

Activist Sudhir Badami says the planning authority's initial objective was to complete the three lines by 2012. "But the rate at which they are constructing Metro-I , it will take at least 30 years to complete the three phases.



Get on with the work: MMRDA tells contractor

Three years after the bhoomipujan of the CBM metro line, the contractor has still not begun work, prompting the MMRDA to give it an ultimatum

August 24, 2012

Ranjeet Jadhav

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) plans to officially inform Mumbai Metro Transport Private Limited (MMTPL) that they should either start work on the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd (CBM) metro corridor at the earliest, or make their stand clear on the project. MMTPL, the contractor of the project has not yet started work on the 32 km-long corridor saying that no action can be taken till the issues of setting up a casting yard and car depot are solved.

Nothing to show: The proposed site for the CBM metro rail car shed near Inorbit Mall at Malad. file pic
The bhoomipujan ceremony of the project was conducted by former president Pratibha Patil on August 18, 2009. However apart from doing the soil testing work, no progress has taken place.
Speaking to MiD DAY, a senior MMRDA official said, “By now, the work on the corridor should have started as it has been clearly mentioned in the concession agreement that it is the job of the contractor to get the space for the casting yard. However, even three years after the bhoomipujan was conducted, the contractor is yet to begin work.”
A few days ago, the same issue was discussed between senior MMRDA officials and now, they have decided that the contractor will be asked to start the work as soon as possible.
When questioned whether MMRDA would ask the contractor to move out of the project, the official said, “We will just ask them to start work soon and if they are not able to start, it is obvious that they will leave the project.” If the contract of the project is cancelled, it would be second major infrastructure project to have ended in this manner, the first being the Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link.
MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana said, “As per the terms and conditions of the contract for CBM metro line, MMRDA is supposed to make arrangements for the car depot and is not bound to give a plot for a casting yard. Now we will be telling them to start work at the earliest.”
Asthana further said, “We will ask the consortium (contractor) to start groundwork, if they are unable to start, we cannot keep waiting.” The planning had received conditional clearances for establishing car depots at Mankhurd and Charkop from the environment ministry, as it falls under Coastal Regulation Zone. Due to this reason as well as delay in its implementation, the cost of the project too has considerably increased from its original estimate of Rs 7,660 crore.
Aug 18, 2009
The bhoomipujan ceremony of the project was conducted by former president Pratibha Patil 
Rs 7,660 crore
The estimated cost of the project
                                                                      The other side
Sources from the MMTPL said, “With the current status of clearances, it is not possible for us to start construction. There is uncertainty about the location of the car depot, and the alignment of the rail at each end. MMRDA is yet to take any action on the underground utilities or overhead high tension lines. The DCR revision is pending and MMRDA have given undertaking in court not to start construction of stations without bringing the necessary legislation into place. We cannot plan our vertical profile, since it is not known at what vertical level will we be able to exploit the commercial space, whether above or below the platform levels.”

Activists slam authority for lack of foresight

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's track record in planning and implementing projects is anything but stellar. It has frequently been accused of beginning work without sufficient forethought and adequate preparation.

In 2003, to great fanfare, the agency was appointed the implementing agency for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project. Its task was the upgradation of arterial roads in the city. In 2008, the MMRDA returned 16 of the arterial roads to the BMC and the Eastern and Western Express Highways to the state Public Works Department.

Yet, even today, the Western Express Highway is incomplete as are the promised subways on it. Potholes dot the highway and its service roads lie unattended.

A glaring example of the MMRDA's slapdash work is the northbound section of the highway at Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road junction. Just before the signal, a large crater, ostensibly caused by poor construction, forces vehicles to stick to two of the four lanes. Those vehicles that do venture into the crater have to climb back about a foot to resurface. The road condition, motorists say, is ideal grounds for accidents.

This is not all. The MMRDA failed to complete the widening of S V Road. It also returned incomplete Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg in the eastern suburbs, with the culverts and connectivity between drains ruined and the sidestrips unfinished. When handed over the road, the BMC enquired if MMRDA-appointed contractors would complete the work; in reply, the MMRDA reportedly washed its hands off the issue.

"Travelling from JVLR to Aarey flyover in the evening is painful. The highway has six lanes while the flyover has two, leading to long traffic jams. In the morning, one gets stuck at The Times of India naka and then on the stretch before JVLR, which is in a terrible condition," says Aditya Bansal, a Kandivli resident who drives to his Andheri (East) workplace every day.

Another project where the MMRDA bungled because of poor planning was in the construction of skywalks . Of the more than 54 skywalks initially planned, only 32 were completed. Cost overruns, opposition from locals forced the authority to abandon the project.

Architect-activist Jagdeep Desai says: "The road under the skywalk at Vile Parle (West) is encroached upon. The pillars of the skywalk at Ghatkopar (East) are on the footpath. A perfectly good footpath lost. The planners refuse to learn. They have become contractors."

Rishi Agarwal, activist and a member of the Walking Project, says the MMRDA's failures stem from its reluctance to include the public in decision-making . "Skywalks have proved helpful in Bandra, Santa Cruz, Vile Parle and Goregaon. The Andheri skywalk , once commissioned, will help segregate traffic," he says. "The MMRDA should be more receptive and involve people in planning. In the past, we have seen it focus more on selling land and giving out infrastructure projects than on planning for the region.


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