MMRDA takes over operations of Mumbai monorail

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority terminated its contract with L&T-Scomi Engineering consortium to operate city’s first monorail between Wadala and Chembur as the joint venture could not meet contractual obligations. The authority also announced to encash bank guarantee worth Rs.200 crore of the joint venture.

The MMRDA’s Metropolitan Commissioner RA Rajeev, however, absolved L&T of any wrongdoing, and blamed Malaysian engineering giant Scomi for its failure to meet contractual obligations. He said, “The L&T was supposed to create infrastructure for the monorail, which it did, but Scomi failed to supply and maintain the rakes as per the agreement.”

As per agreement, Scomi was supposed to supply 15 rakes, but it supplied only 10, of which only six are operational. The remaining four are non-functional due to lack of spare parts and proper maintenance, according to MMRDA.

The project was ill-fated since inception. The project’s foundation stone was laid in 2009 and its first phase was to be operational in 2011, but due to delays in land acquisition, environmental clearance and other issues, it was thrown open to public only in February 2014. The second phase of the project between Wadala and Jacob Circle is yet to become operational. It has missed at least 10 deadlines to start the project. The cost of the project has also escalated from Rs.1,100 crore to nearly Rs.2,500 crore.

The authority had slapped a showcause notice on the operator on December 7. The consortium filed an interim reply on December 13 and asked for more time to give a detailed reply, he said. Rajeev said the consortium was given a long rope to enable them to recover from cash crunch, but they failed to supply the rolling stocks and operate and maintain the 8.9-km corridor.

The 198 employees of the company will be absorbed through third party, said Rajeev.

The authority had first proposed the monorail in November 2005. The work for 18.5 km corridor between Jacob Circle, Wadala and Mahul via Chembur was awarded to L&T, along with the Malaysian partner Scomi Engineering in 2008.

The state had also planned to construct nine other monorail corridors. However, with the failure of the pilot project, it abandoned the plan to build a 190 km monorail network across the Mumbai metropolitan region.

Replying to a question, the MMRDA chief said, “The second phase of the monorail project will be commissioned in the next three months.”

“We will be issuing global tenders not only for spare parts and tyres for replacement, but also for additional 10 rakes. We hope in the next three months, we will be able to commission the second phase depending on when we get the rakes,’’ he said.

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