It has been two-and-a-half months since the CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation) claimed that they were set to start Navi Mumbai’s first Metro line, yet the wait for its launch continues as the planning authority is waiting to hear from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) about inauguration arrangements. The Line 1 has been built at a cost of R2,500 crore and every day’s delay is adding to the project cost.
Each and every thing is ready to work — the ground staff, housekeeping, technicians, even security guards have been already recruited and they are being paid too. In fact, the corporation is suffering losses since the project’s inauguration has been delayed,” said a senior CIDCO official.
A senior CIDCO official who did not wish to be named said, “Since the end of June we are ready. All the work related to the operation [of the metro] is in place and it can run even at a notice of 12 hours. We have informed the CMO about our preparedness, now they have to take a call regarding the inauguration.”
The Belapur terminal of the Navi Mumbai Metro next to CBD Belapur railway station
Along with the Metro, the second phase of the Belapur-Uran railway line between Kharkopar and Uran, and the Digha railway station on the transharbour Vashi-Thane line are also set for inauguration. “Both these projects are of the central government while the Metro is completely the work of the state government. But politicians want the central leadership to inaugurate it. For this one reason, all three projects are gathering dust,” said a senior IAS officer. “All three projects will bring much-needed relief to lakhs of commuters but since VVIPs are busy, the projects also remain unused,” the officer added.
mid-day contacted CIDCO Chairman and Managing Director Anil Diggikar for his comment but did not get a response. Officials from the CMO said that they cannot comment on the matter. The significance of Navi Mumbai Metro was noted in citizens’ voices. “Every day, thousands travel from Taloja to Kharghar railway station. It takes more than 30 minutes and sometimes 45 minutes due to traffic. The Metro is ready but we can’t use it. Don’t know when VIPs will make time for citizens,” said Harish Keni of the Shetkari Kamgar Paksh and an ex-corporator from Taloja.
A Taloja resident, Zoha Chaudhari, said, “From Taloja to Kharghar, a sharing Eco car costs Rs 20, a sharing auto costs Rs 30 and a direct auto costs Rs 100 to Rs 120. The Metro is ready in front of our eyes. Why should we have to suffer?”
Began in 2011
The bhoomi pujan for Navi Mumbai Metro Line 1 was performed on May 1, 2011, by the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. CIDCO, the urban planning body in Navi Mumbai, wanted to complete the first line within three years. However, legal and technical issues delayed the 11.10 km line with 11 stations. Phase 1 of the Navi Mumbai Metro will be between CBD Belapur and Pendhar. It is expected to improve connectivity in Navi Mumbai and expand the real estate market.
Early in June 2023, during a visit to the Navi Mumbai airport site, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadanavis assured that the Metro would become operational as soon as it gets the CMRS certification. On June 21, CIDCO said that it had received all necessary approvals and certifications.
The construction of stations was assigned to the San Jose Constructora-Mahavir Roads-Supreme Infra JV. However, the contract was cancelled by CIDCO. To expedite the construction, the Maharashtra Metro Railway Corporation (MahaMetro) was roped in in February 2021. After five months, MahaMetro was given a contract for operations and maintenance of Line 1 for the next 10 years at a cost of R885 crore plus taxes.
This boosted the construction and in October 2021, CIDCO received the CMRS (Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety) certificate for the 5.4 km stretch between Pendhar and Central Park. But CIDCO went ahead and completed the construction of all 11 stations and went for CMRS certification.