The first Metro project of Navi Mumbai hit a roadblock, long before the work has begun. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is supposed to carry out the work, has decided to drop the plan for Nerul-Seawoods-Uran Metro corridor, according to sources. Instead, the Central Railway (CR) will resume the work on the suburban railway system on this section. "As of now, we have decided to go ahead with the suburban railway system on this section,"said B B Mehta, additional chief engineer (railway projects), CIDCO. "In future, if the need arises, we would construct Metro also on this section," he added.
Before CIDCO opted for the Metro, the original plan was a Rs 495-crore Belapur-Seawood-Uran double railway line, approved in 1996-97, for which CIDCO was supposed to pay Rs 331 crore and Central Railway Rs 163 crore. The project took time to materialise and the cost spiralled to Rs 1,480 crore, leading to CIDCO looking for an alternative. The Metro was to have a station at the proposed Navi Mumbai airport.
However, the railways by then had already invested Rs 50 crore and CIDCO Rs 75 crore on the project. Three Road over Bridges (ROBs), 15 road underpasses, the bridge over the Ulve creek, four major bridges and 73 minor bridges had been constructed.
The union cabinet committee on infrastructure in its meeting in August had also discussed the project. After a series of meetings with the state government and Indian Railway, "the CIDCO has agreed to withdraw the letter in which they had asked the railways to stop all the work on the project," the cabinet committee stated.
Sources said the railways had to use arm-twisting tactics to bring the project back on track. "The state government had backed off from the existing project and it wanted to include the plan for 12-car rakes on harbour line in MUTP Phase II," said a railway official. Though a letter from Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had urged the railways to include the plan in MUTP Phase II, the railways did not pay heed to him.
The CIDCO would now be spending Rs 977 crore on the project. "Even the railways have agreed to pay Rs 488 crore. So we have decided to go ahead with the suburban railway system on this route,"Mehta added.