There is likely to be less digging on the city roads as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) proposes to set up an elevated network of Optic Fibre Cables (OFC) along the upcoming Metro corridors. It will also help generate additional revenue for the Metros, officials said.
“We will have a network of OFC running along our 300-km metro corridors and we will lease them. There is not much expenditure involved in laying them but we can earn good revenue through it. Most importantly, in areas where the Metro corridor passes, there would be no more digging of roads for laying the cables,” said Pravin Darade, the additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA.
Generally used by data providers for Internet transmission, the cables would be laid through pipes along the elevated viaducts and the MMRDA is considering laying them along other projects, including the Monorail, and the Eastern Freeway. Usually OFC network is laid underground.
“We will give the companies two options – either we can lay the cables and lease it from us or they can lay their own cables through elevated pipes. It will be more economical for them as they have to pay a huge sum of money to dig up the roads to lay the cables. For digging a 1km long and 500 metre wide trench on a concrete road, it costs around Rs 1 crore. For the same dimensions on bitumen and paved roads, it costs Rs 30-40 lakhs. Here, they can have cables for over 300 km for a nominal cost,” said a senior MMRDA official.
Further, being on an elevation would offer an advantage in terms of safety. “When laid underground, they are often damaged during digging work for other projects. Now, they would be perfectly safe,” the official added. “The revenue generated from the metro fares is not sufficient to make the corridors feasible. It can be made feasible only through non-fare revenues garnered through means like these and advertising. It will ensure that commuters do not have to pay excess fares and bear the burden of operating the corridors,” he said.