Metro on fast track, but central funds take slow route
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Though most of the construction for the city's first Metro corridor is over, the central government is yet to release over a fifth of its share of the viability gap funding (VGF) for the project.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) raised the issue of delays in release of VGF in a recent review meeting with the union Ministry of Urban Development.
"We took up the issue strongly with them. Their conditions for release of funds was that we should work towards a unified transport system, such as integrated ticketing with other modes of transport, commensurate fare rises for all modes of transport, a unified urban transport authority and so on," said Rahul Asthana, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA. He addd that different modes of transport were governed by various agencies and meeting all the conditions was not possible.
"Wherever it is possible, we have tried to integrate the Metro with other modes of transport. We have tried to provide access to bus stops and railway stations from the Metro," he said.
The Centre was to pay VGF of Rs 460 crore for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro. The project is being implemented on a public-private partnership basis. MMRDA was to bear Rs 190 crore. More than five years after the project took off, the Centre is yet to release Rs 160 crore.
The slow release of VGF notwithstanding, the pace of the project has remained unaffected as MMRDA has been providing funds whenever required.
The Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro is expected to be complete by mid-2013 and commissioned for use by year-end.