Last week, the state government of Maharashtra approved the cost escalation of the Mumbai’s Metro 3 project between Colaba-Bandra-Seepz, running underground on a track of 33.5 kilometers. The original project cost approved in 2013 was Rs 23,136 crore, however, last week the cost has increased by Rs 10,270 crore. There are multiple reasons behind the increase, one of them is also the shifting of Metro Carshed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg.
The Metro 3 work began in 2016 and was to be completed by 2021 in two phases. However, delays have cost this project dearly leading to a cost escalation. There are multiple reasons for the cost escalation but one of the prime reason is the shifting of the metro Carshed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg when the government in the Maharashtra changed. The first thing that the Uddhav Thackeray government did when it came to power in November 2019 was shift the metro Carshed to Kanjurmarg from Aarey. The reason given by activists and the then the Uddhav Thackeray government was that they wanted to protect environment.
Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), when asked by a reporter, if the entire issue of shifting the Carshed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg had not taken place, what would have been the status of the Carshed work? She replied, “It (Carshed at Aarey) would have been completed by now.”
Currently the metro Carshed work for Metro 3 has completed only 29%. The stalled work has resulted in terrible inconveniences for people in Mumbai and it is visible on the streets with unprecedented traffic jams keeping commuters on the road for as long as two hours for a few kilometer.
Now the Carshed for Metro 3’s Phase I is expected to complete in April 2023, whereas the carshed for Metro 3’s Phase II is expected to complete by July 2023.
Carshed at Aarey is an important piece of construction when it comes to Metro 3. In an earlier interview to Organiser E Sreedharan, the Metro man had said, “Carshed is important because metro cars have to for stabling and other purposes every day.”
Of the total cost of Rs 23,136 crore approved for the Metro 3, the corporation has already received Rs 21,890 crore of which Rs 21,520 crore has been used. The Phase I of Metro 3, which was expected to commence in 2021 is now pushed to December 2023 whereas the Phase II is expected to complete by June 2024.
Bhide claims, that Metro 3 is one of India’s most difficult project. During the planning stage, based on the Delhi Metro construction, the cost estimates were decided and a 10% mark up was added keeping in mind that the project was taking place in Mumbai.
Apart from the Carshed shifting misadventure, the project suffered an escalation in price because of increase in foreign exchange rates, the COVID 19 pandemic too was responsible. During the COVID 19 pandemic when a complete lockdown was imposed, the work had come to a complete standstill. This impacted the project heavily. Even post pandemic, when there were relaxations, still a lot of caution was observed further hampering the project. The tunneling work in Mumbai is tough, at the same time an expensive affair because of hard rock, resulting in the slowing down process of the project.
However, a senior official on the condition of anonymity said, “In the last two years the most important reason for the delay was that as there was no clarity on where the Carshed will come up the pace of the work was slowed.”
However, now have clarity that Aarey is final destination for metro Carshed, the project has started moving fast. Already 86% of civil work, 84% of station work, 100% of tunneling work, and 43% of systems work has been completed in regards to Phase I.
According to Bhide, by the end of this month, trial runs will commence on Phase I too. Which means by Ganesh Chaturthi, residents of Mumbai can see the metro trains moving on these tracks.
According to Shashank Rao an expert on infrastructure issues, the delay in metro Carshed at Aarey has forced the corporation to keep the rakes meant for Metro 3 at Marol Marisha. “There are more rakes for the metro car have to come in and they coming in soon, if the Carshed at Aarey is made available, then these rakes can be kept here,” said Rao.
Rao also claims that the rise in raw material because of global issues, manpower are other issues that led to cost escalation.
Overall, a total of 75% work on the Metro 3, has been completed stated Bhide.
Metro 3, is crucial to decongest the western suburbs of Mumbai, with the growing population of the city it has become imminent that projects like Metro 3 take shape and start running. There are few who have been opposing the metro Carshed at Aarey, but Ashwini Bhide clarified that no more trees will be cut in Aarey for the metro Carshed and at least for few years now they won’t even need more land in Aarey.
Metro once operational will decongest cities several main points and if all metro lines start operations then then it will benefit Mumbai Metropolitan Region at large, which currently has a population of over 2 crores now.
The Aarey metro Carshed work began during the Devendra Fadnavis government when he was the chief minister, now it is expected that when he is assumed the post of deputy Chief Minister of the state and Eknath Shinde as the Chief Minister the project will see completion during their tenure.