There is growing uneasiness amongst bureaucrats over the inordinate delay in sanctioning the increased cost to be incurred for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ underground Metro-3 project. Officials say this has the potential to derail work, besides consequences like loss of jobs for those involved in executing the work.
The cost of the underground Metro-3 project has escalated by over Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 33,406 crore from the original estimate of Rs 23,136 crore in 2011. However, there has been no urgency shown by the state government to approve the increased cost. The deadlock over finalising a location for a car shed for the line has compounded the financial mess.
A senior Mantralaya officer said, “The inaction on sanctioning the approved cost will not only affect timelines but also render thousands of workers and professionals jobless as contractors will have no option but to sack them and stop work if payments are not released to them on time. ”
An employee of one of the contractors said, “About 15,000-16000 workers are deployed on the project. In addition, there are engineers and other staff working for contractors, consultants, sub-contractors and ancillary units in addition to these workers. The extent of job losses and loss to businesses will be glaring. A source close to one of the consultants said, “Those in power should understand that once the contractors let go of employees, it will become very difficult to put these men and machinery back. Employees lose trust and machinery rots. It is as good as starting everything from scratch. ”
Apart from the woes of contractors, there are major implications for other aspects of the project. The source said, “There are temporary deckings in use across various congested station sites for traffic movement and traffic management. These deckings are temporary steel structures and require regular maintenance. If civil contractors stop working, this regular maintenance of temporary steel bridges will not happen while the traffic will continue to ply. This will lead to unsafe situations. ”
Another official from a contractor’s firm said, “New equipment that are being installed will rot for an indefinite period of time and may become junk by the time they are about to be put to use again. Their warranties will also lapse without being used even a day. Moreover, two trains are ready and one more is under manufacturing. Delivered trains need space (car shed). Lack of which will rot the stock. ”
Another Mantralaya official said, “International and domestic contractors will claim monies for losses and contractual defaults. All this may also lead to loss of faith by international lending agencies on the work environment and capability of the state to take up large infrastructure projects in the state. There will be difficulties in seeking further funding from JICA. ”