The Rs 11,420-crore Pune Metro project, being implemented by the MahaMetro, is set to face a number of challenges in the coming year. However, according to Metro officials, they have chalked out concrete plans to speed up the project and overcome all challenges. “The PM’s promise to complete the 12-km of Metro lines by December 2019 will be achieved,” said Brijesh Dixit, managing director of MahaMetro, adding that the 5-km run between Pimpri and Dapodi will start before December 2019. Here are some of the key problems faced by the MahaMetro and how it plans to go about them.
Kasba Peth land acquisition
The Metro needs to acquire around one acre of land in the Kasba Peth area to construct a station and carry out underground drilling work from Shivajinagar to Swargate. For this, as many as 200 residents need to be displaced and 30 shops demolished. Those who will be affected are seeking proper rehabilitation.
According to Metro officials, they plan to construct a residential complex for the owners and also for their tenants.
Shop owners will also be accommodated in the same place. “We are hopeful of resolving their grievances in 2019. Just yesterday, PMC Commissioner, Saurabh Rao, has promised to hand over the land belonging to a school, that has been shut down, and a market place. Once these places are cleared, we will build a residential complex,” said Metro Executive Director, Ramnath Subramaniam. He added that owners as well as tenants will be provided their own houses. “However, the project will end the relationship between the existing owners and tenants. The tenants will come under the MahaMetro, once their houses are handed over to them,” he said.
All temples in the area will be shifted to the new complex, officials said. They added that it would take at least six months to sort out the rehabilitation problem, only then the project would move ahead in the Kasba Peth area.
Change of route
The Metro had to change its plan as the Archaeological Survey of India opposed to its route in front of the Aga Khan Place. After the MahaMetro officials planned the new route in Kalyaninagar, the local residents here too protested as they did not want it to pass in front of their residences. They demanded that the route should terminate before the Aga Khan Palace. “Though there is opposition from a few residents, we are getting representatives from people in Ramwadi, Wagholi and several other places that the Metro should run till Ramwadi and then beyond it in future,” said Subramaniam, adding that they were determined to run the Metro till Ramwadi.
Army land transfer
The issue of handing over of Army land in Dapodi, Bopodi and Khadki continues even months after the Defence Ministry agreed to a Metro proposal of offering the land along the Pune-Mumbai highway in these three suburbs. “So far, we have received utility shifting permission. So, currently the utility shifting work is under way,” said Metro officials. The MahaMetro is still awaiting work permission so that it can undertake pier and station work on this section. There is another problem of handing over a vacant plot to the Defence Ministry in exchange of the land acquired. “The state government is playing an active role in this… it has identified some pieces of land. Once the Army approves them, the land will be handed over,” said Metro officials.
Corridor One at Nashik Phata
In 2019, the biggest challenge for the Metro work is at Nashik Phata on Corridor One, which is from Pimpri to Swargate. The Metro line will fly between two flyovers, presenting a “spectacular” sight. Last month, the work in the corridors reached Nashik Phata, where barricades have been put up. Metro officials said the route would remain on the right side on this section and will seamlessly pass between the two corridors. “We have chalked out a minute plan and the flyovers on the route will not be disturbed,” officials said.
This year, the MahaMetro has so far received Rs 360 crore and has been able to manage the show. It still needs Rs 200 crore from both the state and the Centre, which is expected to arrive in the next three years. But the key move in 2019 will be the signing of an agreement with the European Investment Bank and AFD, France for Rs 6,000 crore. “We are hoping the loan agreement will be signed in January,” said Subramaniam. Metro officials said it would provide a fresh momentum to the whole project.