The state Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to a hike in the project cost for Metro-3 connecting Cuffe Parade and Seepz.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) had asked for an increase in project cost of Metro-3 following which the urban development department had put forth a request before the Cabinet. The development was first reported in The Indian Express on August 9.
A senior officer of MMRC said that project cost has now increased from Rs 23,136 crore to Rs 33,405 crore. The urban development department – the parent body to which MMRC reports — had sought an increase of Rs 10,269 crore for the project. It had also asked for a new financial outlay for the project.
According to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main reason behind cost escalation is the opposition from environmentalists who forced the previous Uddhav Thackeray government to shift the Metro carshed in Aarey to Kanjur Marg – a location which was opposed by the Central government. Delays due to Covid pandemic was also cited as a reason.
As per the earlier letter by Centre, dated July 18, 2013, the state government was to bear escalation costs caused due to increased taxes, fluctuating foreign exchange rates and other things such as change in plan. This condition is likely to be relaxed to get more central share, sources said, adding the state could seek more aid from the Centre.
Due to cost-escalation, the state share in the project was expected to go up from Rs 2,402 crore to Rs 3,699 crore, which has been okayed in the Cabinet.
The cost of land acquisition has increased from Rs 2,421 crore to Rs 2,554 crore. The project is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency and their loans will increase from Rs 13,235 crore to Rs 19,924 crore.
The Metro will initially connect Seepz with Colaba but the project will be soon extended to Navy Nagar following a request in this regard from the Indian Navy.
The project has faced several delays and opposition from environmentalists who have been blaming former CM and now deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis for the “massacre of trees in Aarey” even though the ground-breaking ceremony for the carshed was performed in 2014 by then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of the Congress.
In 2019, former CM Uddhav Thackeray had cancelled the Aarey plot for carshed. However, after taking over, Fadnavis and CM Eknath Shinde lifted the stay on construction at Aarey. Following this, environmentalists moved the Supreme Court and obtained a stay on further cutting of trees even as MMRC claimed that they have only cleared bushes.
Speaking to the media, Fadnavis said, “We took a decision to sanction increased costs. In 2015, it was to cost Rs 23,000 crore, and no work has taken place over the last two-and-a-half years…Nearly 85 per cent of the work on the Metro project is complete, but only 29 per cent work on the car depot has been done. We will start first phase of Metro-3 in 2023. Now, we will speed up the work. When the Metro starts, 13 lakh persons will travel through it and six lakh vehicles will reduce (on the roads). By 2031, 17 lakh persons will travel this way.”