With an aim to connect different parts of the city with Metro lines by 2022, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) plans to begin work on five more lines in the city by December 2017. With that, the city will have eight Metro lines under construction simultaneously.
While the construction of Metro 2A, 3 and 7 is ongoing, the authority plans to begin work on Metro 2B and Metro 4 by July, and Metro 5 and Metro 6 by December 2017.
“We will be receiving bids for Metro 2B and Metro 4 until the end of April and will evaluate them within a month.
By June, we should give the work order and, by July, work on the two Metros should begin,” said Pravin Darade, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
The Rs 10,970-crore Metro 2B will connect DN Nagar with Mankhurd across a 23.5-km corridor and the Rs 14,549-crore Metro 4 will be constructed across a 32-km corridor from Wadala to Kasarvadavali.
The 24.9-km-long Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro 5 will cost Rs 8,416 crore and the 14.47-km Lokhandwala-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg Metro 6 will cost Rs 6,672 crore.
MMRDA will also begin work on the extension of Metro 7 to Mira-Bhayander by the year-end.
“By December, MMRDA will be constructing 130 km of Metro lines and MMRC will be constructing another 33.5 km. This will be a challenge and we are recruiting more staff from the railways and the DMRC along with new engineers and town planners to manage it,” said Darade.
These Metro lines will change the way Mumbai travels and ease the crowd in suburban trains.
“I do not like to drive and currently take an Uber. If it is air-conditioned and on par with services abroad then I will take the Metro to work. If I am not in a rush, Metro 3 will be a good option for me to travel to BKC from Prabhadevi,” said Dr Prafulla Kerkar, consultant cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute.
Rishi Agarwal, a transport expert, said, “The completion of the long-delayed Metro lines will definitely be good for the city. The crowds from suburban trains may shift to these lines and, hopefully, even cars may reduce on the road.”
“However, the same enthusiasm is not shown in improving bus connectivity. It does not need any new infrastructure, only better quality buses and, unlike the Metro, they are much more flexible. A bus route can be shut and new routes can begin. Also, while the state is struggling for car depots for the Metro, the city has fabulous infrastructure for bus depots,” he added.
“Traffic congestion will not be an issue during construction as we will effectively manage it. We have successfully dealt with traffic issues on the Western Express Highway (WEH) as work on Metro 7 continues,” said Darade.
But Agarwal quoted the same example to warn of the traffic chaos the city could see in the coming years. “With just three lines under construction, we are facing severe traffic issues. The WEH is already congested and an incident like the recent gas leak further increases the trouble,” he said.