Mumbai Metro races against time to start operations by next March

Govt keen to start marquee Rs 33,400 cr project before general election; phase-1 to start by December

Dev Chatterjee Mumbai
Mumbai Metro

Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar

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With the Maharashtra government setting a new deadline of March next year to complete the entire Rs 33,400 crore Mumbai Metro line 3 project, India’s leading construction companies, led by L&T and Tatas, are racing against time to finish the construction work before the new deadline.
Mumbai metro officials say they are aiming to start phase-1 of the  project between Aarey Colony and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) by this December and the second phase by next June. “The service trials of trains in phase-1 will start by this October and operations by December,” said an MMRCL official.

In a visit to the site on May 11, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde surveyed the project and asked the contractors to complete the project by next March instead of the earlier deadline of June 2024.
Construction major L&T, which won two of the seven contracts, has already started giving finishing touches to the four metro stations in South Mumbai and three in the Marol-Aarey stretch. Both of L&T’s projects, monitored daily by the firm's MD and CEO S N Subrahmanyan at the corporate headquarters, were among the first to finish the tunnelling work, laying of tracks and construction of stations.

“We used first-of-their-kind tunnelling methods in South Mumbai to ensure there is no damage to heritage structures even as we complete the project on time,” Palwinder Singh, project manager of L&T, said at the site near Nariman Point. "The Mumbai metro project was extremely complex due to the proximity of sea and marshy land of the metropolis," he added.
The entire section was divided into seven packages and construction contracts were awarded to five consortiums so as to minimise construction time. In 2016, L&T, HCC, Soma Enterprises, Tata Projects, Kumar Infrastructures won the contracts to build the projects along with their overseas partners. Of this, L&T won two packages between CST and three stations (Marol Naka, MIDC and Seepz) and associated tunnels.

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Ashwini Bhide, MD of MMRC said over 87 per cent of phase-1 construction of Mumbai Metro is completed. “Multiple small works are to be completed before integrated testing begins,” she said.
But the project, which was originally planned to start by 2021 end, was delayed after the previous government led by Uddhav Thackeray stopped work at the Aarey depot, citing environmental concerns and lack of labour due to Covid pandemic. The work between BKC and CST is slower than the other sections, risking the March deadline to start phase-2 of the project, said a source.

After the BJP returned to power last June with the support of some rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, the work at the Aarey depot has restarted. The delay also led to the cost of the entire project rising from the original Rs 23,136 crore to Rs 33,400 crore.


First Published: May 15 2023 | 6:04 PM IST

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