A week after sunday mid-day reported that the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), a government consultancy firm, came up with a report suggesting that the Charkop Bandra Mankhurd (CBM) metro line two can be completely underground, transport experts and officials from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are a worried lot. They said that the construction of this line will require more than R20,000 crore and getting such a huge amount will be a difficult task.
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Former President of India, Pratibha Patil had conducted the bhoomi pujan for the CBM metro line in 2008
A senior MMRDA official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Last September, the state government asked the RITES to conduct a survey on the feasibility of the elevated line’s conversion into an underground system. Now it has suggested that the line can be made underground and extended up to Dahisar. The report also mentions the possibility of constructing a car depot at Borivli, Dahisar or Oshiwara. However, the question is that if we want to construct an underground line then it will require a huge amount of money which is more than R20,000 crore and MMRDA will have to take financial assistance, which is not an easy task.”
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The former President of India Pratibha Patil had conducted the bhoomi pujan for the CBM metro line in 2008. Six years later, apart from the soil testing work, no further work has taken place. The delay was caused as Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) refused to give MMRDA the permission to construct the car depot in Charkop, as the site fell under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and mangrove area. If at all MMRDA will have to construct the line completely underground, then it will have to first cancel the contract with the present concessionaire and a fresh tender will have to be invited.
“We had a very bad experience with the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva. There were many companies that had come forward to bid for the project but no one submitted the final bids, as they claimed the market situation was not conducive,” an MMRDA official said.
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MMRDA is already taking financial assistance (loan) from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for constructing Colaba Bandra Seepz (CBS) metro line three. The estimated project cost of CBS metro line three is R23,136 crore and MMRDA is taking a loan of R13,235 crore from JICA. However it remains to be seen if the MMRDA will once again take a huge loan for building the underground metro line two.
“It will be interesting to see how the planning authority will raise more than R20,000 crore. With the new government in the centre, we expect that Mumbai gets more funds so that this line can be constructed smoothly,” transport expert Jitendra Gupta said.