Prabhu catches authorities unawares by re-announcing the project that had been forgotten for more than three years
Looks like Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s googly has stumped the rail authorities. In his budget speech yesterday, the minister reintroduced the Churchgate-Virar elevated rail corridor. The project had been in the cold storage for more than three years.
Spelling out his strategy, the Railway Minister said it would rest on three pillars of ‘Nav Arjan, Nav Manak and Nav Sanrachna (new revenue, new norm and new structure)’
Prabhu stated that he hopes for an early financial closure for the elevated Churchgate-Virar line alongside CST-Panvel fast elevated corridor. The 63-km-long Churchgate-Virar corridor has been in the doldrums and its alignment has undergone myriad changes ever since it was proposed. The R19,000 crore elevated rail line was first proposed more than seven years ago by the then rail minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Sources claimed that seven months ago, the Western Railway (WR) handed over the project to the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC). Commenting on the issue, WR general manager G Agrawal said, “I do not know the exact position, as the project has been handed over to the MRVC.”
Bone of contention
The elevated corridor ran into trouble after the MMRDA proposed and accelerated its Rs 24,000 crore Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 corridor. This evoked a mix response from authorities, experts and citizens alike, who questioned the need for having two separate modes of transport on similar lines.
“MRVC has a joint venture with the state and are in constant touch with them. So the Railway Board decided to hand over the project (elevated corridor) to them, as it was lying idle,” said a senior WR official.
Turning down the elevated corridor, the state then informed the centre that the city doesn’t need it because it already had planned Metro 3. Later, the route was shortened to Andheri-Virar. The project cost too was brought down to around Rs 15,000 crore and fresh feasibility study was initiated.
Back on track
Speaking to mid-day, MRVC sources claimed that the company has resumed talks with the state over the execution of the elevated corridor. “In fact, the alignment need not start right at Churchgate. It can either commence from Bandra or Andheri. At present, there is no specific dateline set for starting this project,” an MRVC officer said.