Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has stated that the line will become operational this year only if the safety certificate is obtained, else it may even take more time.
Interacting with the reporters at his official residence, Chavan said, “As per our plans, we want to start the metro at the earliest. But, I really cannot comment on the exact month because it all depends on the safety certificate, which will be given by Commissioner of Railway Safety. If we receive it soon, then the line will be operational this year itself or else it may take time. Our first priority is safety and so we really don’t mind if there is a delay in its opening.”
The CM also said that a meeting between him and the Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), which is constructing the metro rail corridor, has already taken place a few days back and that in this meet the contractor had raised the issue of cost escalation that has happened in the construction of the project.
“In the meeting between the government and MMOPL, the contractor has said that government should also think about providing the cost escalation difference as the project cost has increased more than twice its actual cost. However, at present, nothing can be said on this issue. I personally feel that there should be a Dispute Settlement Authority in place to tackle such important issues,” he added. It should be noted that the actual cost of the project when it kicked off was Rs 2,356 crore, but sources say that the cost has since doubled.
The CM also said that he will soon be writing to the planning commission about the ticketing and fare structure and will suggest that there should also be a Transport Sector Regulatory, which should decide on the ticketing fares of metro, monorail, airport tickets and road toll collection.
The MMRDA-MMOPL, in the presentation given to the CM, said that more than 95 per cent of work on the line one is compete and the remaining work will be completed in a few months.
When questioned what will happen in case the contractor backs off if the cost escalation difference is not provided by the government, Chavan answered, “In the first place, we will try and solve these things by negotiations. But, if things still don’t work out, we will look at the option of arbitration and may even think of taking over the project.”
When contacted, the MMOPL officials declined to comment.