Embroiled in land and rehabilitation issues, Ahmedabad metro rail project is set to miss yet another deadline. The work on the first 6 km of the metro rail project, which was set to finish in October, 2017, ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, will now take at least another six months to complete.
“We will not be able to meet the target. We are faced with a number of land acquisition issues and court cases,” said I P Gautam, managing director of Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA), which is constructing the Rs 10,700-crore Phase-I of the project.
In April this year, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had announced that the first 6 km of the 39-km-long Phase-I will be finished by October. However, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), which was disqualified in a tender for supplying 96 coaches, approached the courts. Although the Supreme Court has permitted the Chinese firm to participate in the bidding process, the issue remains unresolved.
Gautam added MEGA was finding it difficult to locate the land owners near three proposed metro stations— Vastral Gam, Rabari Colony and Amraiwadi — that fall on the East-West Corridor linking Vastral Gam in the eastern part of the city to Thaltej. “The width of the road in these areas was just 22 m and we wanted at least 27 m for building our stations. So we needed to acquire at least 4,000 sqm of land in these locations, which were residential areas. However, we found that the occupants of the houses, were not the actual owners. We had to spend a lot of time, searching for them,” he said.
The official further said that the owners, who were identified, were allotted alternate houses or plots. “Among the court cases, the one, in which residents near Vejalpur (on North-South Corridor) had approached the courts, has also been resolved,” he added. Till April 2017, over Rs 2,750 crore were already spent in building the Ahmedabad metro for which the first Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared way back in 2005.
In 2011, former IAS officer Sanjay Gupta took over the project and around Rs 400 crore was spent on land redevelopment at Sabarmati. A fresh DPR was passed in November 2014.