THE WORLD BANK that is partly funding projects under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) III has expressed interest to include the Panvel-Virar suburban corridor in the list of projects under the third phase of railway works for the city, officials of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) said. The MRVC is the nodal agency behind implementing the MUTP III.
Although the MRVC is yet to ascertain its stand on the matter, the move may allow holistic development of the northern belt of the city and boost integrated transport and business opportunities in the region, the officials claimed.
At present, the projects included under the MUTP III are quadrapuling of the Virar-Dahanu Road network on the Western Line at an estimated cost of Rs 3,555 crores, suburban rail corridor between Panvel and Karjat stations on the Central line, expected to cost Rs 2,618 crores, new suburban line between Alwa and Karjat stations at Rs 428 crore and procurement of rolling stock and other trespass control measures.
The Panvel-Virar suburban corridor, requiring an estimated cost of Rs 8,026 crore till its completion in 2021, was deemed as a standalone project as it required more funds and was more complex. “The bank authorities, including the project under the MUTP III belt, could add a lot of incentives to the development of railway line,” a senior MRVC official said. “According to the observations made, job opportunities and rehabilitation projects have been increasingly developing in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) compared to the island city. Including this project could lead to the development of a singular rail connectivity among all three lines-Central, Harbor and Western-of the suburban railways in Mumbai,” he added.
Commercial exploitation of land and facilitating transit-oriented development around railway stations to be built would help the railways earn revenue from the money invested in the projects. Including the Panvel-Virar suburban corridor in the list could help in this way. “According to a survey conducted, a ridership of 17 lakhs on a daily average basis has been recorded for the Panvel-Vasai corridor line by 2041. There is also an equal expectation regarding reaping profits through the development of Bhiwandi region — hub of textile mill and developing industrial region — that lies on the rail line,” the official added.
The MRVC is yet to ascertain its stand, although most officials agree including the project in MUTP III should not be difficult. The World Bank is yet to commit on the total amount that would be required to fund the projects. While the bank would contribute 50 per cent of the total cost of the MUTP III, both the Centre and the state government would share the remaining cost of the project on a 25:25 ratio, as per the Memorandum of Understanding.