MEGA route to change for third time in 8 years

Ahmedabad (ADI): It’s back to the drawing board for Ahmedabad’s metro project. After eight years, the Gujarat government has gone back to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), seeking guidance on preparing a fresh detailed project report (DPR). DMRC was approached in November last year by Metro Rail Express Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad (MEGA), a special purpose vehicle set up by the state government.

After eliminating the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar corridor from the latest metro route map, MEGA declared that the route within Ahmedabad city would also be reviewed. This was after it concluded that construction and operations of these routes would incur a huge financial burden.

DMRC is preparing the DPR at a reduced cost, as some functions – traffic survey report and demand assessment studies – will be undertaken by MEGA.

This in turn will affect the recently declared development plan for the city by Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) which offered FSI of up to 4 along the metro corridor. This corridor will take a different shape now, say officials.

Also, thousands of crores worth of contracts for civil works that were yet to materialize have been withdrawn. MEGA had already cancelled almost Rs 300 crore worth of civil works for a metro test-run site which was being developed on the banks of the Sabarmati at Motera.

“We found that the recently declared plan was costly. At certain points in the route we had underground routes overlapping with an elevated corridor. The money spent on a 10-km underground route construction could fund a 25 km elevated corridor,” says a senior MEGA official. This would mean that the route declared by former state urban development minister Nitin Patel before the 2012 assembly elections will be reviewed once again.

MEGA officials said that the financial returns of the first phase of the metro was a major factor for the U-turn on the existing plan. MEGA required a healthy passenger flow to fuel the system in the first phase. In the second phase, raising capital through sale of real estate and tickets would be considered. The third phase will involve moving into poorer areas. The fresh metro route will be seen in the light of AMTS and BRTS bus operations.

“Scaling down of the Rs 20,000 crore plan was important as three transport systems-AMTS, BRTS and Metro-cannot afford to compete with each other. We had already seen how AMTS and BRTS competed for passengers which caused a loss for BRTS,” said the MEGA official.