While experts have found it feasible to merge the stalled Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro with the proposed Dahisar-Charkop corridor, and construct the entire line underground instead of elevated as was originally planned, the changes will cause the cost of the project to escalate by 134 per cent.
Proposed to be built at Rs 28,900 crore, including all taxes and duties, the fully-underground Dahisar-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro will be the costliest Metro Rail corridor and one of the most expensive infrastructure projects planned for Mumbai so far. The cost of the 32-km Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd corridor was originally pegged at Rs 7,660 crore, while that of the 7.8-km Charkop-Dahisar corridor was estimated to cost Rs 4,680 crore.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had engaged RITES, a Union government enterprise that provides engineering consultancy services, to study the possibility of merging the two corridors and constructing them completely underground. The consultancy firm had given MMRDA a detailed presentation on its report in the last week of May.
“RITES has been asked to rework the proposal a bit by making certain changes in designs, alignment, the turnings and so on. This can in turn lower the cost a bit,” said an official who did not wish to be named. The MMRDA is currently in the process of picking contractors for the execution of yet another costly infrastructure project — the fully-underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro corridor, which is expected to cost Rs 23,176 crore.
However, U P S Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner at MMRDA, said it would not be tough for the development authority to take up two costly projects roughly at the same time. “We can take the help of international funding agencies for a loan. RITES has suggested various options and financial models for implementing the project, including a public private partnership. However, by and large, the state government’s stand is to have all Metro projects henceforth on an engineering procurement contract model (cash contract). The government will take a final call,” said Madan.
According to the presentation made by RITES, the Dahisar-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro will be 40.2 km long and have 37 underground stations. The consultancy firm has proposed one major car depot at Oshiwara and one minor car depot at Mandalay, Mankhurd. An MMRDA official said the potential sites were a mix of publicly and privately-held land.
Lack of a clear environment clearance for the car depot proposed at Charkop was the primary reason why the construction of the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro could not start, though the ‘bhoomipujan’ was conducted in 2009 and the Metro was to be commissioned in 2015. The MMRDA had taken up the project for implementation on a PPP model. “We will still pursue the matter with the Union environment ministry. The site can be considered for a car depot even now,” said Madan.