'Metro-3 will cater to 17 lakh passengers daily': Ashwini Bhide, Mumbai Metro

Eighty-four per cent of the Mumbai Coastal Road (south) project has been completed


Interview/ Ashwini Bhide, additional municipal commissioner and managing director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation

Q The underground Metro Line 3, set to open this year, is among the most ambitious projects undertaken in Mumbai. How do you see it transforming the commute in the city?

A Metro-3 is one of the most crucial urban infrastructure projects in India. Once fully operational, Metro-3 will cater to 17 lakh passengers daily with an unfailing frequency of four minutes. In addition to connecting areas that are not connected to suburban railways, it will link six major business and employment centres―Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade, Fort, Lower Parel, BKC and SEEPZ/MIDC. Also, it will give easy access to more than 30 educational institutes, 13 hospitals, 14 religious places and more than 30 recreational facilities along with access to both domestic and international terminals of the airport. It will also provide seamless integration with other metro routes, suburban rail, monorail and bus services.

This environment-friendly mode of transit will also help in reducing fuel consumption, carbon emission and traffic congestion. When Metro-3 is up and running, the corridor will reduce 2.61 lakh tonne of CO2 emissions per annum.

Q Environmentalists had raised concerns over this project, especially the car depot in Aarey. How did you address those?

A By being very transparent about it. We did not hide a single piece of information. We knew the environmentalists were sometimes extreme in their views. Nevertheless, we went through every objection they raised, and tried to test all our actions against those. Where there were shortcomings, we complied with them. No other government organisation has been under such scrutiny. [The environmentalists] had also approached various regulatory authorities and courts. The High Court has appointed a committee under a district judge-level officer; activists are also part of that committee. For the past seven years, the committee has been monitoring each and every action of ours, which was taken in favour of greening.

Q Could you share details about the coastal road?

A The Mumbai Coastal Road Project (south) is a major infrastructural project undertaken by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation with the objective of providing an alternate north-south route for the people of Mumbai. The Mumbai Coastal Road (south) connects the Princess Street Flyover at Marine Drive to the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. It utilises a combination of reclaimed road, bridges/flyovers, elevated roads, interchanges, sea walls/break walls and tunnels along the western seafront of Mumbai to resolve traffic congestion in Mumbai. About 111 hectares have been reclaimed for the project, with 70 hectares dedicated to open green spaces.

Q What kind of investment has gone into the development of Metro-3 and the coastal road?

A Revised cost of the Metro-3 project is Rs37,276 crore. The Japan International Corporation Agency will provide loan assistance of 57.2 per cent of the total project cost, and balance funding will be provided by the government of India and government of Maharashtra in the form of subordinate debt and equity and funds from Mumbai International Airport Limited.

At present, about 84 per cent physical work of Mumbai Coastal Road Project (south) has been completed till January 8, 2024. Of the total project cost of Rs13,984 crore till date, about Rs9,487 crore has been spent [so far].

Q Mumbai sees heavy rains for three to four months, with many areas prone to flooding. What measures have been taken to ensure the smooth functioning of the underground metro and coastal road throughout the year?

A All the entry/exit of underground stations of Metro-3 will be 1m above the highest recorded flood level, planned after studying data of last 100 years. The tunnels of the underground metro are watertight, well-lit and ventilated. In case of any emergency, sensor-based pumps will be activated automatically.

As far as coastal road is concerned, a seawall along the shoreline is being constructed to address sea level rise, storm surges and high tides. Moreover, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) was appointed for pre-feasibility studies on extreme waves, extreme water levels, storm surge, tsunami and coastal morphology for the project in 2017. According to the report, the difference in shore morphology changes and the hydrodynamics of the region between the base case and the final coastal road alignment case, based on numerical model studies, is insignificant. Further, construction of seawall will provide protection against coastal erosion of the shore. NIO had also carried out studies on impact of sea reclamation on the surrounding coastline of Mumbai. As stated in the report, there would not be any adverse impact due to sea reclamation.