With the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) set to pay a higher trip rate for operating the country’s only monorail corridor once it resumes service next month, it will also have to bear with another huge expenditure — to provide security for the 8.9-km corridor.
Documents procured by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act, 2005, reveal that MMRDA has had to shell out more money on the corridor’s security than the revenue it rakes in from the service. In the first six months of the 2017-18 fiscal, till when the monorail was operational, the revenue generated was a mere 62% of the expenditure borne by MMRDA for security.
Documents show that from April to September, 2017, the MMRDA had spent almost twice on security, compared to the revenue earned. While revenue worth Rs 1.91 crore was generated, MMRDA paid Rs 3.08 crore to the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) as salary for security personnel. The last payment was made to MSSC in September as the personnel went on strike on September 19, 2017. In November 2017, monorail operations were suspended after two coaches were gutted in a fire at Mysore Colony station. In the 45 months that the monorail has been operational, since February 2, 2014, it has garnered revenue of only Rs 15.62 crore. However, the MMRDA has till date paid Rs 31.71 crore to MSSC for the seven stations and the Wadala depot.
Between 2014 and 2016, the MSSC had deployed 331 security personnel at stations and the depot. The deployment was reduced to 243 personnel from July 2016. “It was done to reduce the expenses incurred on security. We did not need so many people and we saved around Rs 2 crore,” said a senior official.
Last year, the MMRDA paid a monthly sum of Rs 60 lakh (including GST at 18%) to MSSC. This can be compared to the average monthly income of Rs 32 lakh earned by the monorail in the previous fiscal, which is roughly half the expenditure.
Apart from MSSC, the MMRDA is also paying a private agency for maintaining a dog squad, which reportedly generates a bill of at least Rs 24 lakh per annum. “We have been paying the agency Rs 24 lakh since 2014 and are still paying them even when the services have been suspended,” the official said.
The monorail corridor is provided with heavy security as it is considered vulnerable to threats. “The Intelligence Bureau had conducted a security audit of the entire corridor earlier this year. It is a vulnerable corridor… There are some important agencies also along the alignment like the Bharat Petroleum refinery,” said another MMRDA official.
However, a recent report prepared by the former general manager of Central Railway, Subodh Jain, has recommended that security personnel should be deployed in two shifts instead of the existing three to cut costs. “Instead of having three eight-hour shifts, we can have two 12-hour shifts and pay the staff for overtime. Also, there is a need to cap the maximum staff, including security, at any station to 50 personnel,” said Jain.
The expenses incurred for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the monorail have gradually increased since its launch, and MMRDA has increasingly been finding it hard to cope. While MMRDA was able to cover 38 per cent of its expenses with its total income in 2014-2015, it was only able to pay for 30 per cent of its expenses in 2016-2017. The O&M payments increased to Rs 13.8 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 10.8 crore in 2014-15 whereas the revenue decreased to Rs 4.12 crore from Rs 4.18 crore in the corresponding period.