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MRVC wastes Rs 1,700 crore by delaying key rail projects

Developmental works are moving at a snail’s pace, thus resulting in escalating costs and continuing struggle for Mumbaikars

When politicians and representatives of the administration announce infrastructure and public welfare projects, they have one hand firmly inside the common man’s pocket. And as these ventures linger on, the hand goes deeper and deeper, until the last rupee is within grasp.

The process of creating the fifth and sixth lines between CST and Kurla is also in limbo. Representation pic
The process of creating the fifth and sixth lines between CST and Kurla is also in limbo. Representation pic

For instance, the delay in implementation of projects under Phase-2 of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) has led to a rise in expenses by R1,706.53 crore, a cost that will, of course, have to be borne by the exchequer. Ever since the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) began work on 11 different projects under MUTP-II in 2008-09, there has been a tremendous hike in cost.

These are vital assignments, namely, addition of two more lines for long-distance trains on both Central and Western Railway, extension of Harbour line up to Goregaon from Andheri, power upgrade to 25,000 volts, procuring new local trains, creating maintenance facilities for these trains and improvement of station premises, and reducing trespassing on tracks. All these operations are either progressing at a leisurely pace, or haven’t even started.

The total sanctioned cost of these projects in 2008-09 was R5,300 crore, which, as per latest reports, has shot up to R7,006.53 crore. Sources in railways agreed that there has been tremendous delay on part of the MRVC, which is the root cause of this predicament.

Some of the vital projects that are not only lagging, but have also witnessed cost escalation are the 5th-6th lines on stretches of CST-Kurla and Thane-Diva, 6th line on the Mumbai Central-Borivli route, extension of the Harbour line between Andheri and Goregaon, power conversion from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC and procuring 72 new EMU trains for Mumbai, of which trial runs of two trains are underway.

“There should be realistic planning, proper calculation of costs, and accurate deadlines. Else, it only leads to wastage of taxpayers’ money,” said Ashok Datar, transport expert. However, railway officials had a different view.

“Political interference, sluggish clearance of files, and impediments in deciding alignments for routes and rehabilitation of people are major hindrances,” said an MRVC official on condition of anonymity.

“MRVC was created to speed up rail projects in Mumbai. Delays in issuance of funds and absence of an external agency to monitor the situation is resulting in this expenditure hike,” said Madhu Kotian, a rail activist.

>> Huge hike in expenses since MRVC began work on 11 projects under MUTP-II
>> Experts advocate realistic planning, proper cost assessment, and accurate deadlines
>> Railway officials blame political interference, sluggish clearance of files

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