Metro Phase I to come on track at a huge cost

Metro Phase I to come on track at a huge cost

Metro Phase I to come on track at a huge cost

After a six-year delay marked by missing nine deadlines and whopping cost escalation, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is closer to opening Namma Metro Phase I to the public next month.

The project, which was supposed to be operational from 2011, failed to meet seven publicly-announced deadlines, the latest in November 2016. The delay has led to cost escalation with the metro line cost standing at Rs 338 crore per kilometre as against the estimated Rs 194 crore.

Till January 2017, the BMRCL has spent Rs 14,291.28 crore, more than double the Rs 6,395 crore estimated when metro (then only 33 km) was sanctioned in 2006. However, the project took off only in January 2007 with many works beginning as late as 2008.

When the Centre sanctioned an additional 9.3 km on the North-South Corridor in 2010, Phase 1 became a 42.2-km project and the cost was revised to Rs 8,158 crore.

Increase in price
Further revisions of the cost were necessitated by delays, which led to increase in the price of land. The project cost was revised to Rs 11,609 crore at January 2011 prices, but both the government and the then BMRCL officials failed to check further escalation, leading to two further revisions.

As per the latest data submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development, the approved project cost was Rs 14,405 crore. The corporation is expected to spend all of it, as the BMRCL newsletter lists several minor works pending at some of the metro stations.

An official, who previously worked with BMRCL, told DH that the project implementation was badly affected after the BMRCL lost Delhi Metro Rail Corporation as its prime adviser.

Another senior official said there were several structural flaws in the administration which will continue to affect Phase II works as well.

“No managing director was allowed to work freely in the BMRCL. Every government that came to power replaced the MD. An officer takes time to understand and acclimatise to the project and that increases the cost and time,” the senior officer said.

Besides these, there was lack of coordination between state agencies and metro authorities in shifting utilities. This was most visible in the row over shifting of Ambedkar statue in front of Vidhana Soudha, which delayed the crucial underground project of East-West Corridor by nearly a year, the two officials said.

“The government and the BMRCL should check how the cost of a project like metro has skyrocketed. This is a burden on taxpayers and the authorities will face the music in the next three years as the liabilities will explode if they do not expedite the next stage (Phase II) of the project,” the senior official said.

BMRCL officials could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts over two days.

Metro may run in May
According to information provided by BMRC authorities, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) will inspect the underground section of the North-South Corridor in the last week of April. The facility will be thrown open to public if the CRS finds the work satisfactory and gives his approval.