MMRDA-railways tiff over project to cost Rs 300 cr more
A 6.4-km-long flyover on Santacruz-Chembur Link Road straddles slum-infested area, religious structures, numerous oppositions and, most significantly, the railway lines over which it passes, before criss-crossing the western and eastern suburbs.
This under-construction structure is set to complete a decade, but even now understanding between the Indian Railways and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for its completion remains intangible. As the project wobblingly approaches the finish line, MiD DAY surveys this epic enterprise, whose expected cost has escalated from Rs 115 crore to Rs 426 crore.
The final and most significant hurdle for completion of the east-west connectivity lies at Kurla above the railway tracks. After several drawings and blueprints were discarded, the two agencies ultimately agreed upon having a steel bridge, similar to those over rivers like Ganga and Brahmaputra.
One span of this steel bridge will be of 52 m and the other 20 m in length. The plan previously was to have two sections of 36 m each for a cement-concrete structure. Even as the technical aspects have been sewn up, railways and MMRDA are yet to decide the date when they would finally launch steel girders above the railway tracks between Kurla and Vidyavihar stations. Only about a few days ago the agencies completed a similar exercise for SCLR near Tilak Nagar railway station on the Harbour line.
“Everyone has been blaming the railways for the delay, but SCLR is equally important for us, as it would connect Kurla LTT, thus easing commute there,” said Subodh Jain, general manager, Central Railway. Railways claim they haven't received the dates for launching girders above the tracks on the Main line after which mega blocks will be undertaken.
This is not the first time the state and central agencies have crossed swords over this project. Since 2006 the two bodies have been debating myriad ways of setting up one structure that can pass over six rail tracks between Kurla and Vidyavihar stations and many other tracks and obstacles at Kurla yard so SCLR can become a reality.
The MMRDA, the nodal agency for the project, and the MSRDC, the executing agency, wanted a cement girder to be launched with pillars between the tracks at Kurla. If sources from railways are to be believed then MMRDA had asked for an unbelievable 2,200 blocks —each lasting around four hours — for having the bridge built.
“They wanted us to stop train services for this work. This wasn’t acceptable to us,” said a senior CR official. This phase was meant for having girders launched above tracks at Kurla on the Main line and Tilak Nagar on the Harbour line.
An agreement to have a steel bridge was finally reached in June 2010, after run-ins between engineering experts from the agencies. “We have built many steel bridges above rivers. But the state government simply came with drawings rather than consulting us,” said another railway official.
“We are awaiting clearance for launching of girders from railways. We expect to complete the entire project by May-June 2013,” MSRDC chief engineer Subhash Nage said.