The first Cabinet meeting of the Eknath Shinde government after expansion approved an increase of Rs 10,000 crore in the overall cost of the Mumbai Metro 3 project, which will connect Nariman Point, Worli, Bandra-Kurla Complex, airports and Colaba-Bandra-Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ).
The cost of the project has risen from Rs 23,136 crore to Rs 33,405 crore, with state government now contributing Rs 3,699.81 crore from the earlier Rs 2,402.7 crore.
Why Has Maharashtra Government Raised the Cost?
One of the reasons for the cost escalation is the time taken in excavation due to basalt rock, adoption of bottom-up construction technology for space needs, addition cost incurred on account of rocky layers and to remove them and erecting steel decks for road traffic to allow building of underground stations in congested areas, according to a report in the Free Press Journal.
Moreover, the Metro 3 project will accommodate eight coaches as against six used by the Delhi Metro.
The state government’s approval came after it allowed work on the Metro 3 car shed in Aarey Colony in Goregaon (East).
Also, according to the revised estimates, the loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the plan stands at Rs 19,924 crore as against the earlier Rs 13,235 crore.
The Cabinet cleared a proposal to make a fresh demand to JICA to increase its loan amount, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said.
When was the Metro Project Work Initiated?
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) started the work on the 33-km long underground Colaba to SEEPZ in 2016 with a total of 26 underground station on the entire stretch.
Earlier this year during the budget session, then Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the Metro line will be extended by 2.5 km from Cuffe Parade to Navy Nagar, and a total of 27 stations will be added with an estimated additional cost of Rs 2,031 crore.
The initial plan was to complete the first phase of the project between Bandra and SEEPZ by December 2021, and the second phase from Bandra-Kurla Complex to Colaba by June 2022. After many delays, the MMRCL is now planning to complete the first phase by January 2024.
Aarey Car Shed Roadblock
The Metro 3 car shed project in Aarey Colony was proposed by then Devendra Fadnavis government. Aarey is a forested patch in Mumbai and was once connected to the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Some parts of Aarey were declared an eco-sensitive zone of the Park in 2016.
However, when the MMRCL under the Fadnavis government cut down more than 2,000 trees in the area for constructing the car shed in October 2019, massive protests took place, and petitions were filed in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court challenging the move to build the metro shed in the area.
After the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi government in November 2019, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray cancelled the car shed project in Aarey, and announced that the plan be shifted to marshy, salt pan area of Kanjurmarg. The Kanjurmarg area was stuck in litigations and lawsuits, with the Central government claiming stake on the land.
The Metro line will be of 33.5 km and the entire stretch will have underground 26 below the surface and 27 elevated stations. It is estimated that 17 lakh passengers will travel by the Metro Line 3 every day by 2031.
The Metro line will cut down on the travelling time between Colaba and the international airport to 50 minutes.