The Rs 2,700 cr monorail to nowhere

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) undertook two ambitious projects — the Metro and Monorail — to solve the Mumbai commuter’s woes. However, the routes selected by the planning authority have raised some serious doubts, as commuters feel that the routes pass unfrequented areas.

Phase I of the Rs 2,700 crore Jacob Circle-Wadala-Chembur (JWC) Monorail is between Wadala-Chembur, while
Phase II is between Jacob Circle-Wadala.

Concerned Chembur resident, 24 year-old Karan Katyal, who works in an airline, said, “I really don’t know what the MMRDA was thinking while planning the routes. The Wadala-Chembur route is a flop idea, as there are hardly any commercial and residential colonies along this route. The MMRDA is likely to face a loss.”

In the Jacob Circle-Wadala-Chembur (JWC) Monorail, the Phase-I route starts from Wadala towards Bhakti Park and Mysore Colony before passing over Mahul creek. It then goes via the HPCL-BPCL refineries towards Ashish theatre. From here it will pass along RC Marg and end at Chembur 

According to Joint project director Dilip Kawatkar, MMRDA, the decision to implement the JWC line was taken after conducting a feasibility survey of how many people would use the line. “The best part about the monorail is that its four cars can carry 8,000 to 12,000 passengers per hour in each direction. One cannot say that we have not planned,” said Kawatkar.

However, MMRDA sources said, on condition of anonymity, “We will consider the responses to Phase I and Phase II of the JWC before starting work on the master plan because Mumbaiites feel that having a Metro network will be more useful than the Monorail.”

Metro route
The 11.07-km long Phase I Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) and Phase II Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd (CBM) are also garnering similar reactions. Commuters feel that this route will not be of much help as the Andheri Ghatkopar Link Road was only recently widened.

Ex-DMRC chief E Sreedharan, who had created the masterplan of the Mumbai’s metros, had suggested Colaba-Bandra-Charkop as the second phase, but the MMRDA went ahead with CBM first. Sreedharan said, “The MMRDA should have taken line 2 as Colaba-Bandra-Charkop, as the number of commuters going to south Mumbai is more than the number going towards Mankhurd,” he said.

Twenty-two year-old Andheri resident Ameya Sawant, said, “It will take just a few more minutes to reach Ghatkopar from Andheri by road as compared to the VAG. When there is not a big difference, why waste so much money on the project?”

The 11.07-km long Phase-I of the Versova-Andheri- Ghatkopar (VAG)  Metro Rail

Residents have also pointed out that many companies from MIDC, Andheri have relocated and this will also add to the drop in commuters.

“We took up this line, as the DMRC suggested it in the Mumbai Metro masterplan. It will bring down the travel time to 20 minutes from the 90 minutes it takes now. It will provide east-west rail connectivity for the first time,” said Kawatkar
According to transport expert Jitendra Gupta, the Monorail route between Wadala-Chembur was selected because it was easy to construct the alignment on this route as the area had no obstructions. “The liner will be useless as there will be hardly any commuters on this corridor. The MMRDA should have considered constructing along arterial roads such SV Road, which would have helped reduce the pressure on the suburban railways network,” said Gupta.

The VAG corridor will be helpful, said Gupta, as it will provide east-west connectivity through a rail network for the first time. “The MMRDA should see to it that the work on the corridor is completed in stipulated time and the problem of parking vehicles around the station is solved,” concluded Gupta. 

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