Mulyani Indrawati, MD & COO, World Bank travels by Mumbai Suburban Local Train

World Bank also to extend funds to improve Mumbai suburban train services and will continue to invest not only in improving the frequencies but also give priority to enhancing security and safety apart from sanitation facilities. World Bank is also keen to fund Mumbai’s two Metro corridors

Smt. Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group walks after disembarking from a local train at Andheri
Smt. Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group walks after disembarking from a local train at Andheri

Mumbai: The World Bank has shown interest in funding the city’s public transport infrastructure, including two Metro Railway projects planned in the western suburbs.

Going by the talks between World Bank MD Ms.Mulyani Indrawati and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held on Tuesday, the funding may be extended for the 20-km D N Nagar-Dahisar (W) corridor, which will cost around Rs 4,388 crore, and the 16.5-km Andheri (E)-Dahisar (E) corridor, which costs an estimated Rs 4,183 crore.

She spoke to female commuters en route to understand their woes during commutation on Tuesday. She promised all support to upgrade Mumbai’s railway infrastructure.

Indrawati is on a three-day visit to India to explore opportunities for collaboration, a World Bank release had said on Monday. She is accompanied by Annette Dixon, the Bank’s Vice President for the south Asia region.

Indrawati said the bank would extend long-term loans to major transport infrastructure projects in the city and the rest of Maharashtra and was also positively considering its support for the two Metro projects on priority. The three local lines – the Western, Central and Harbour lines – together carry more than 10 million passengers a day, making the lifeline of the commercial capital that is home to close to 19 million people (in the island city alone) while the number of people in the Mumbai metropolitan region is well over 30 million.

The 32-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground Metro corridor, which costs around Rs 24,000 crore, has already received funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The detailed project report of another corridor between Kasarwadalavali and Wadala via Thane and Ghatkopar, which is estimated to cost around Rs 25,000 crore, is being drawn up to attract financers.

World Bank MD and COO Sri Mulyani Indrawati (right) commutes in a ladies compartment of a suburban local in Mumbai
World Bank MD and COO Sri Mulyani Indrawati (right) commutes in a ladies compartment of a suburban local in Mumbai

On Tuesday, Indrawati, who is also chief operating officer of World Bank, sought feedback from woman passengers while travelling on one of the Bombardier rakes that were recently procured under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II. “I travelled in the women’s compartment of a local train from Churchgate to Andheri. The commuters told me that they really appreciated the new trains, but raised concerns about security.” She also expressed the World Bank’s interest in getting involved in MUTP-III.

Among the issues raised by the commuters were better ventilation and security on trains and improved sanitation on railway premises. “There should be better ventilation as it becomes difficult to travel in crowded compartments during peak hours,” said commuter Roshni Bagdi, who lives in Andheri. Another commuter Jayshree M added, “The toilets on stations are not maintained and most women avoid using them.”

The woman commuters also demanded better frequency of services, especially on the Harbour line.

Lauding the state government’s initiatives to enhance the ease-of-doing-business index, Indrawati gave an assurance that the World Bank would aid the initiatives aimed at improving the city’s existing public transport. “We have a long tradition of partnering with the Railways and we have been investing in hard infrastructure. But now we also plan to invest in improving basic sanitation facilities on stations, and improve safety and security, increasing the frequency of services,” Indrawati said.

The World Bank is also keen on investing in the state’s agriculture sector. Fadnavis also called upon the World Bank delegation to extend their support to his pet project aimed at creating artificial lakes and ponds to strengthen the ground watertable.

Minister of state for urban development Dr Ranjit Patil, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, additional chief secretary (finance) S K Shrivastav, ACS (protocol) Sumeet Malik, MMRDA commissioner U P S Madan, principal secretary to the CMO Pravin Pardeshi and UD secretary Manisha Mhasikar were present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I had a very good meeting with the chief minister. He identified natural calamity resilience, urban services, including railways, and affordable housing as priority areas for the bank support to the state. I reiterated the bank’s willingness to work closely with the state government in these areas,” said Indrawati.  She also praised the state’s ‘ease of doing business’ policy and expressed keenness in partnering with the government to upgrade Mumbai’s public transport system.