Interview with Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corp

ashwini bhide
Ashwini Bhide IAS, Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation

Mumbai: The Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro rail has been in news recently for protests and objections by the public on various issues ranging from protecting the environment to rehabilitation to cancellation of stations and even shortening of the alignment. In an interview with a news media, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s Managing Director Ashwini Bhide on the planned corridor.

How have the various protest campaigns affected the schedule of the project?

The timeline has remained unaffected because we are still working on the tendering process and are yet to award bids. We will not be taking the entire Colaba Woods during the construction phase, it is only some portion of the garden and it will be restored later on. The CM has agreed to suggestions provided by Girgaum and Kalbadevi residents on rehabilitation, and they will be given homes in the same area. On the Aarey car depot issue, the first meeting has been held by the CM-appointed committee and they will soon come up with the report.

Are there any alternatives to Aarey Milk Colony for a car depot?
I will not comment on it as a committee is already looking into the subject.

In Mahim too there are some buildings that would be affected due to metro construction, will they too be given houses in the same area?
There are very few structures in Mahim. These buildings already have plans to go for redevelopment.

Will these redeveloped buildings have to pay ‘development charge’ as they are in the vicinity of metro stations?
That’s a policy decision which may be taken at a later stage, but there is no such plan at this juncture.

Are there plans to appoint a consultant on rehabilitation and resettlement?
A consultant will be appointed to examine how much area will be available after the metro construction is over and if it is possible to have housing in a single or multiple clusters. If there is any need for modification or exemptions in the Development Control Regulations or not, etc.

Metro Man E Sreedharan spoke about the states’s ineptitude for not having discussed the project with the people.
The project and it’s alignment particularly have been in the public domain since 2012. Concerns were not raised by public earlier, but now they have gone viral. In Mumbai, people are aware about their rights and raise concerns. The project is still at the planning stage and discussions are done during this stage itself.

Though the plan shows utilising open spaces for the metro, there are roads too that will be completely or partially blocked.
Huge planning has gone into it with the Mumbai Traffic Police. We have prepared a traffic management plan so that people have least possible inconvenience.