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Mumbai rail project gets nod after 5 years!

The government will be approaching the World Bank for the funding of the project.


Nithin Belle

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 9:32 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:59 PM

Mumbai — Already five years behind schedule, the third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-III) got a green signal here on Sunday with the formal launch of the project by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis signed several memoranda of understanding to speed up railway projects in the state including the MUTP-III.

While the original MUTP-III, conceived in 2011, had estimated total investment of Rs520 billion over the next 20 years, the truncated version expects allocation of Rs114.4 billion over the next six years. The project had originally envisaged the laying of additional tracks of more than 500km including a new corridor linking Vasai-Virar on the Western Railway to Diva-Panvel on Central railway and a fast corridor between CST and Panvel.

However, the approval that has now been given covers connectivity between Kalyan and Navi Mumbai with the proposed construction of an elevated link between Airoli and Kalwa, doubling of the Panvel-Karjat railway line and quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu corridor. In February, Prabhu had allocated Rs10 million in the budget for the third phase of MUTP.

The government will be approaching the World Bank for the funding of the project. Though the World Bank has been funding the first and second phases of the MUTP, it has been critical about the inordinate delays in executing them.

One of the problems for the delay in executing various infrastructure projects in Mumbai is the multiplicity of government agencies. There are three major railway agencies — Western Railway, Central Railway and Konkan Railway — involved in executing these projects. Then there is the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation.

The Maharashtra government has various agencies including Cidco and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The Bombay Municipal Corporation also comes into the picture.

Unfortunately, instead of reducing bureaucracy and the overlapping of responsibilities and duplication of work, the state government and the railways have signed a memorandum of understanding for setting up another body, the Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Company for “speedy implementation” of railway projects in the state. The third phase of the MUTP will now be carried out by this special purpose vehicle.

Mumbai’s suburban railways are the lifeline of the metropolis, transporting nearly seven million commuters daily. Local trains travel about 60km north from Churchgate (to Virar) on the Western Railway corridor and about 100km north-east from CST to Karjat/Khopoli) on Central Railway’s mainline and 60 north-east from CST to Panel on its Harbour line.

But the rakes are badly maintained and passengers have to travel in appalling conditions during the peak hours. Railway ministers have over the past decade promised that Mumbai would get air-conditioned coaches, but the project has failed to materialise.


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