Written by Arti Chouhan
MahaMetro managing Director Brijesh Dixit said at a press conference in the city on Saturday that the rail project will get delayed if the Defence Ministry does not approve the land acquisition proposal in Khadki area. The MahaMetro is seeking permission from the Defence Ministry to acquire 10 acres of defence land in Khadki.
“The Army and the state government are having discussions to acquire land, which has put work of 1.3 km on hold. The state government will provide land to the Army in another area in exchange for the defence land in Khadki,” he said, adding, “The matter is in its final stages and will soon get the approval of the Defence Ministry.” He further said that Metro work is in full swing in almost every area. “Only the work at Khadki has been held up due to the land acquisition problem, which will be solved soon,” he said.
Requesting anonymity, a Metro official said there has been a delay of 10 months in getting sanction for land transfer.
“Forget about land transfer, we have not even received work permission for Khadki area,” said the official. Metro officials speaking off the record said they have no clue when the land acquisition proposal will be sanctioned. “Though Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, MP Anil Shirole and the Chief Minister are pursuing the issue with the Defence Ministry, there has been no word about when the proposal will get the green light,” said a senior MahaMetro official.
At the press conference, Dixit also denied that the MahaMetro had proposed the construction of a two-tiered flyover on Nagar Road at a cost of Rs 175 crore. “We have not proposed construction of any flyover on Nagar Road. Our job is related to the construction of Metro not a flyover. It is not in our DPR,” said Dixit.
But he said that if the PMC asks them to construct the flyover, they will do it. “We can construct the flyover at a reduced cost if the PMC makes such a request. But the demand for a flyover has certainly not come from MahaMetro. It has come from the PMC and people, I believe…” he said.
Besides land acquisition, the Metro is facing a few utility problems. Recently, BSNL wires were damaged during Metro work near Paud Road for which MahaMetro took responsibility and is helping BSNL in the repairs. Dixit said, “We regret what happened with BSNL due to construction and digging of Metro work and will compensate for it.”
He said underground utilities like water supply line, telephone line and electricity line get damaged sometimes, and are some of the problems regularly encountered during construction of Metro. The biggest challenge is to work carefully without creating problems and finish work on time.
“The Metro project will be completed on time as 25 per cent of the work has been completed in the past one year and four months,” said Dixit, adding that they are expecting to earn over 50 per cent in Pune through non-fare box revenue, which they have started earning in Nagpur Metro at a rate of 50 per cent.