Six years after work began on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) Metro line, the project has received its final clearance. The Railway Board has given the pending statutory clearance to the 11.04-km line. This means the line can be inaugurated any day.
The VAG corridor crossed the final hurdle on Thursday, when Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority got the clearance from the Board.
Mumbai Metro. File Pic
“We haven’t yet received an official letter from the Railway Board. We can comment on the date of opening of the Metro only when we get the letter,” said Dilip Kawathkar, MMRDA’s joint project director.
Metropolitan commissioner UPS Madan also confirmed the development, saying the required permission from the railway ministry had been received. This paper had reported on May 25 that the Railway Board had given the permission. Sources from railways had then told mid-day that the Ministry of Railways has cleared vital permissions required to start the commercial run.
Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd, a special purpose vehicle led by Reliance Infra and MMRDA to execute the project, wanted to hike ticket prices to account for the rise in cost of the project. The ministry of urban development had stated that it wouldn’t allow an increase in price, which was set at R9-R13. The disagreement had threatened to delay the project opening again, but MMRDA officials say such is not the case.
“Officials of MMOPL and MMRDA are in talks over the ticket prices, but they will not be a hindrance to inaugurating the project,” said a senior MMRDA official.
It is expected that MMRDA will receive the letter in a couple of days.
Mumbai Metro received the safety certificate from the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety on May 2, and was awaiting approval for rolling stock from the Railway Board for which it had applied on April 22 this year.
Mumbai Metro One (MMOPL) is a joint venture between Reliance Infrastructure, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and French firm Veolia Transport.
While the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infra, which is the execution agency, owns 69 per cent stake in the project, MMRDA and Veolia hold 26 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.
The Centre had already allowed the operator to fix the fares, one of the issues on which the project got delayed inordinately after the Centre brought the Mumbai Metro under the Central Metro Act.
The state government had notified a minimum fare of Rs 9 and the maximum of Rs 13 in the initial year of operations. However, RInfra has been seeking a steep revision in fares with minimum Rs 22 and maximum Rs 33, citing a near-doubling of its cost, to which the state has been objecting, leading to delay in commissioning the project.
The Centre, through a notification dated February 7 had informed the state government that the Mumbai Metro will be governed by the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act of 1978, which makes the RInfra the administrator of the project who also can fix the fares afresh after obtaining a go ahead from the fare fixation committee.