MEGA falls back on its original 2005 plan: Cost cut to Rs.9000 Cr., Route cut by over 50%

Ahmedabad (ADI): The ambitious Ahmedabad metro rail route has fallen back on its original 2005 plan that was suggested by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). This means 85% of the route proposed in the 2005 plan would be retained and the cost of the project would be literally halved to Rs 9,000 crore.

Gandhinagar, GIFT and the city airport has been left out of the new plan for the time being. The reason given for this is that, in the first phase, the Metrorail Express Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad (MEGA) would focus on getting passengers on board and building credibility.

Gujarat Finance Minister Nitin Patel, who is also the head of the Metro Power Committee, disclosed the new plan on Thursday claiming that it would connect the eastern and western parts of Ahmedabad.

When compared to the October 2012 route which was 76-km long, the new 34.32-km route revealed on Thursday has reduced the need for MEGA to cross the Sabarmati river thrice, i.e., going via Paldi on an elevated corridor and by an underground line twice. The route in Ahmedabad has been reduced from 44 km to 34 km. The underground route has been reduced from 10 km to 7 km.

There has been an addition of an extra 8 km route to the original 2005 plan – from Kalupur to Vastralgam. This 8-km route will pass through New Cotton Mill, Amraiwadi, Rabari Colony and finally end at Vastragam.

The East-West corridor-Thaltej to Vastral – is 18.21 km with 16 stations, while the North-South corridor of 16.11 km is from APMC to Motera stadium with 13 stations. There will be two special ramps-one at Shahpur and the other at New Cotton Mill on the East-West corridor – that will take the metro rail from the elevated corridor to the underground route and vice versa.

“We could not stick to the DMRC’s 2005 route plan on Ashram road as we have lost some open plots, an underbridge came up at Income Tax and a the design of high-rise buildings on the Sabarmati riverfront forced us to re-align the route,” said a senior MEGA official. “We have customized the route to the current passenger movement of the city.

Metro route will run parallel to BRTS

The announcement of the new Metro plan has taken the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) planners back to the drawing board. Since the motive of Metro was to complement AMTS and BRTS services, one route – the third phase of the BRTS’ APMC-Vadaj would be running 8km parallel to the newly declared Metro route’s North-South corridor.

“Since MEGA declared the new plan on Thursday, we will review the Ashram Road Corridor of the BRTS, which is from Vadaj to APMC. We have to keep in mind the central business district (CBD) coming up on a stretch on Ashram Road which will require additional mass transit services as the density of people coming to work will be higher,” said municipal commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra. “There are a few flyovers that were being proposed on certain routes which will now have be reconsidered in aspects of design or necessity. A detailed discussion on these aspects with MEGA is yet to take place in coming days,” added Mohapatra.

MEGA officials hinted at a few major intermodal transit stations where a passenger can get off a Metro rail and get into the BRTS, while AMTS would act as a feeder for both the services. The present BRTS and Metro rail routes intersect near Income Tax Crossroads, Rabari colony, Kalupur railway station, Helmet junction, Anjali, Ellisbridge and Vadaj.

Urban development officials pointed out that the October 2012 Metro plan had 65% of BRTS network overshadowed by the Metro. The BRTS-Metro routes either ran parallel, too close to each other, or even overlap at times. The Danilimda-Narol; Sarangpur-Dariapur-Civil Hospital-Memco Sports Complex and Ranip-Vadaj-Dariapur stretches were a few examples. “Most of the 2012 routes were scrapped as they were cost intensive and literally served no purpose and competed with other transport services which were laid using taxpayers money,” said a senior MEGA official. The official added, “Connectivity to GIFT has to wait as we have to get the system running before we think of extending up to Gandhinagar. This will be third phase of the metro rail.”

Finance minister and chief of the metro high power committee Nitin Patel admitted that the Union urban development department had raised objections in the 2012 plan. It was in November last year that the DMRC was again invited by MEGA to review the Metro plan and suggest a “workable” route.