In the last one week, two important developments have come to light vis-a-vis the Pune Metro project.The first one pertains to the suspension of two engineers by Brijesh Dixit, managing director of MahaMetro, the implementing agency of the project.
The second one is the possibility of the Metro project being delayed. The Defence Ministry has, for nearly 10 months, refused to give permission to the Metro project for acquiring 10 acres of land in the Khadki station area.
Back in November 2017, the requisite documents for acquiring and seeking work permission on the 10-acre land was submitted to the Defence Ministry, through the state government. It took Pune Metro officials six to seven months to painstakingly gather all the documents. But the Defence Ministry is yet to take a call, and Metro officials have been waiting, for months, for the green signal to acquire the land.
“So far, we have been disappointed,” said a senior Pune Metro official. Meanwhile, work on the Khadki stretch is in limbo and Metro officials are apprehensive that the project may miss its 2021 deadline. “It is obvious that the project will not meet its deadline. If some other hurdle crops up tomorrow, the project will be delayed further,” said officials.
They said while a contractor was appointed for the project in May 2017, “since he had no work in Khadki area, we have asked him to take up work on other stretches”. Dixit said Metro officials have already held a meeting on the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “But we are still awaiting the green signal. We should at least get a work permission so that we move ahead with the project,” he said.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar and Pune BJP MP Anil Shirole are apparently also trying to persuade Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the need to hand over the land to MahaMetro, in the interest of Pune residents who suffer through traffic chaos, day in and day out. “Javadekar and Shirole have been in touch with Defence Ministry officials, but they have had no luck so far,” said Metro officials. The officials feel that if someone like Javadekar, who is considered to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, could not manage to get the land acquisition approved, then it was time Pune MPs raised their voices collectively. “If they form a team and meet Defence Ministry officials, there is a chance that their collective voice will be heard,” they said.
Other MPs from Pune, including Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, Supriya Sule, Vandana Chavan and Shrirang Barne should take up the issue with the central government, said Metro officials. “If there is pressure on ministry officials, it will help get sanction for the required land,” they said.
The MPs have also been in touch with Metro officials to seek frequent updates about the progress of work on the project.
Dixit said 40 per cent work on Pune Metro project has been completed and, once permission was received for the Khadki stretch, work will gain further momentum. “In Corridor One, from Pimpri to Swargate, work is in full swing… we have deployed our full force….however, the stalled work in Khadki is worrying us. It needs a push,” he said.
Meanwhile, after two engineers of Pune Metro were suspended over poor quality of supervision on pier work in Kasarwadi area, officials have assured Pune residents that they will not tolerate any kind of sub-standard work. “We have a 8-member team that supervises the project daily. We can assure Pune residents that there is no room for poor quality of work. We will not tolerate any kind of defect in the project,” said Metro officials.
“It is a zero defect project. It is a project that meets the highest international standards,” said Dixit.