While Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, this month inaugurated the last of several transport-infrastructure projects that were under way in Mumbai’s first major wave of new infrastructure addition, cumulatively, all these works faced a cost-escalation sufficient to build another similar elevated Metro or monorail.
Also, although the six key transport-infrastructure works have undoubtedly eased traffic in the city, which had for long been coping with overfilled trains and constrained roads, nearly all these projects suffered enormous time overruns adding 5,528 extra construction days, amounting to more than 15 years.
These infrastructure works have all been completed and opened for public use over the past 1.5 years and the Congress-NCP government, whose current term is set to end this year, is proudly cashing in on the development for boosting its pre-poll image. Earlier this month, Chavan inaugurated the last major infrastructure project of his term — the Panjarpol Ghatkopar link road-that extended the freeway to the mouth of Ghatkopar. At the inauguration, he reiterated the achievements of this government recounting all the infrastructure development it has brought about in a complex brownfield environment.
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Put together, the cost overruns in these projects amount to Rs 2,806.77 crore, while the projects have altogether billed Rs 7,522.77 crore.
The six projects include a Metro rail line, a monorail, the eastern freeway, a bridge over a chronic bottleneck and flooding spot, a road enhancing east-west connectivity, and an elevated road providing direct access to the airport.
Even as authorities had started these works with ambitious deadlines having the designs and engineering aspects figured out, the subsequent delays and cost overruns in this flurry of infrastructure creation, for the first time threw up the umpteen constraints of working in Mumbai in full.
Difficulties in land acquisition, clearing encroachments and rehabilitating nearly 40,000 people, pursuing clearances from railways, the civic body, and central government agencies, and dealing with an unmapped mesh of underground utilities, threw all initial estimates of cost and time off track. In almost all the projects, shifting religious structures to make way for projects was also one of the reasons for delay.
Versova-Andheri Ghatkopar Metro
The 11.4-km corridor has for the first time provided an east-west connectivity between the eastern and western suburbs by a non-motorized transportation mode. While earlier it used to take more than an hour to travel the distance between Andheri and Ghatkopar, especially during peak hours, the Metro has made it possible to travel this distance in 21 minutes.
Original cost : Rs 2,356 crore
Revised cost : Rs 4,291 crore
Original deadline : March 2012
Actual date of commissioning : June 8, 2014
Cost and time overruns mainly due to difficulties in securing right of way, frequent design changes due to unforeseen utilities and securing permission from the Western Railway in taking the Metro over railway tracks.
Santacruz-Chembur Link Road
While the road has certainly not made the drive between Santacruz and Chembur a breeze, it has brought the two suburbs significantly closer than they were and enhanced east-west connectivity in the city. The BMC still needs to widen certain parts of the complete road, while certain stretches have to be cleared of encroachments by scrap dealers. The road has significantly eased traffic on the Sion-Dharavi link road, which used to otherwise bear most of the east-west commuters’ load.
Original cost : Rs 115 crore
Revised cost : Rs 428 crore
Original deadline : 2008
Revised deadline : April 18, 2014
Time and cost over-run mainly due to changes in design, expanded scope, securing permission from the Central Railway to take the road over the railway tracks and clearing encroachments.
Touted to be the country’s first monorail, this 8.8-km corridor is the first phase of the larger Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail. While it has connected interior areas of Chembur and Wadala to each other, the standalone phase has not gathered significant regular commuters’ traffic. The second phase, still marred with land acquisition troubles and lack of clearances from railways, is yet to be completed.
Cost : Rs 1,100 crore (unchanged)
Original deadline : May 2011
Actual date of commissioning : February 6, 2014
Time over-run mainly due to design changes of the car depot, time spent in securing environment clearance, testing of the line and training operations and maintenance staff considering it was a nascent mode of transport in India
Sahar elevated road
This 2-km road that begins from the Western Express Highway at Vile Parle and goes to the new international airport terminal, T2, has shortened the ride from the highway to the airport from anywhere between 20-40 minutes to less than five.
Original cost : Rs 287 crore
Revised cost : Rs 400.77 crore
Original deadline : January 2011
Actual date of commissioning : February 11, 2014
Time and cost overruns mainly due to delays in acquiring land, a lot of it from central government agencies, rehabilitating people and clearing encroachments to make right of way available.
The 17-km signal-free road has made travel from eastern suburbs to south Mumbai much easier than it was, cutting the time required to go from P D’Mello road to Ghatkopar to about 20 minutes from the earlier 1-1.5 hours. The freeway has significantly de-congested the arterial Dr. Ambedkar road.
Original cost : Rs 847 crore
Revised cost : Rs 1,250 crore
Original deadline : June 2012
Actual date of commissioning : Partially in June 2013, and fully up to Ghatkopar on June 16, 2014
Time and cost overruns due to challenges of rehabilitating squatters on port trust land and securing clearance to construct on salt-pan land.
Milan rail over-bridge
The 700-metre bridge over the congested and low-lying Milan subway have made it easier for commuters to cross over from the Western Express Highway to SV Road. Traffic movement on this stretch, which was a chronic bottleneck, has become much easier due to this over-bridge.
Original cost : Rs 41 crore
Revised cost : Rs 83 crore
Original deadline : May 2012
Actual date of commissioning : May 24, 2013
Time and cost overruns due to removing encroachments and securing clearance from the Western Railway