By Rairam Remesh www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
MUMBAI: The Union environment ministry has given clearance to the 32-km phase II of Mumbai Metro. The announcement was made on Friday by the minister, Jairam Ramesh, who was in Mumbai to discuss issues related to environmental clearances for projects in Maharashtra.
The news cheered up officials at Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), a consortium headed by Reliance Infra, but they said hard work lies ahead.
“The issues with the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line will be similar to those faced during the laying of the first line (Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar ): getting a clear right of way along the route and the shifting of utilities like water, power and telephone lines,” said a MMOPL official. “Adding to the problem is the fact that the civic authorities do not have proper maps of the layout of the underground utilities. In clearing the path for the Metro, we will have to do guesswork. One wrong move and there will be public outcry against the utilities being hit. Also, bridges need to be built over railway tracks in Bandra, Kurla and Mankhurd.”
Phase II is expected to cost Rs 11,500 crore. The construction period will depend on whether the government can give a clear right of way from the beginning , the official said. Referring to the first line, he said the right of way was not given at one go, but in stages, creating delays. “The government took time to rehabilitate hundreds of projectaffected persons occupying residences, commercial establishments and slum tenements lying on the Metro route.”
Building the bridges at Bandra, Kurla and Mankhurd will be a tricky business. “Getting the railways to agree to our design and safety norms will not be easy going by our experience during the laying of the first metro line,” the official said. “The railway authorities took their time in clearing the design for the bridge near Andheri station. They have a number of norms that are not easy to adhere to.”
He said MMOPL also fears protests by citizens. “When the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA; the planning authority for the Metro) discussed with us plans for the second line, citizen groups raised strong objections to the elevated route from Bandra to Vile Parle.
“They preferred an underground route, which would obviate the need for moving hundreds of residences and shops. But the MMRDA ruled out the objections since the cost of an underground route would be three times that of an elevated one. We just hope the protests don’t erupt again.”