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.
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 continued…