Even as a full report will be delivered by the month-end, preliminary findings of a study commissioned to look into the much-delayed Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro corridor show that it is technically feasible to construct the Metro underground and extend it up to Dahisar.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had originally planned the project as an elevated Metro line. Although the Metro corridor was to be completed by 2015, construction has not begun owing to issues with securing complete right of way and a clear environment nod.
Last year, MMRDA had last year appointed RITES, a central government enterprise that provides engineering consultancy services, to study if the proposed 32-km Metro corridor can be constructed underground. RITES was also studying the feasibility of extending the corridor and merging the 7.5-km Charkop-Dahisar Metro, envisioned as a separate line, with this project.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We had a preliminary meeting this week. They are saying it is technically feasible. They will study the financial feasibility and show us the most preferred options of how the corridor can be constructed. We will be able to decide on financial feasibility only once we have figures such as the required capital costs, ridership figures and so on. We will get the full report by the month-end.”
He, however, added that in such projects it was difficult to recover capital costs. This being a public service project, the development authority will have to seriously consider it even if the financial internal rate of return was negligible, said Madan.
Originally, the cost of the 32-km Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro, which was to be a fully elevated corridor, was estimated at Rs 7,660 crore. The cost will sharply rise if the Metro is constructed underground and extended, as underground Metro lines are generally about two to three times more expensive than elevated ones since they involve sophisticated engineering and tunneling methods. For instance, the cost of the 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro, which will be fully underground, is Rs 23,126 crore.
However, officials say an underground Metro will minimise land acquisition and disturbance to traffic during construction.