Pune Metro: Tussle over cost sharing derails Metro Rail project

PUNE: The Pune metro rail project’s delay is largely rooted in its still-unresolved funding pattern, with the two civic bodies of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad continuing to contest their cost share of the 16.59km-corridor between Pimpri and Swargate.

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has been insisting that it will fund the metro corridor that falls in the PCMC limits and not share the entire project cost up to Swargate, even as the Pune Municipal Corporation has dug its heel in maintaining that the corridor’s cost has to be shared equally. The issue is far from resolved and the latest in the duel is a letter that the PCMC has recently shot to the state government reiterating its stand that it will not share the entire project cost.

The Pimpri to Swargate route is 16.59 km long, of which 7.15 km passes through the PCMC area and the remaining 9.44 km passes through Khadki Cantonment and Pune area. The metro rail project is along the Mumbai-Pune highway stretch, where incidentally the municipal corporation has also started work on the pilot 12-km BRT system, between Nigdi and Dapodi.

As per the metro’s financial plan, the centre and state governments will share 20 % of the total cost, 10 % of the cost will have to be shouldered by the municipal corporation. The remaining 50 % share will be raised through private funding and other measures including allotment of additional FSI along the metro rail corridor. For over three years now, the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporations have locked horns over the cost sharing issue.

PCMC Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi said, “The civic body will be bearing the expenditure of the project that is proportional to the length of the metro route and expenditure incurred in the municipal limits. We will make more budgetary provision as and when required to bear our share of the project cost.” A senior PCMC official said that the corporation has sent a letter to the state government about its position on cost sharing.

Incidentally, PCMC has been making a token provision of Rs 10 crore every year in its annual budget for the metro project. However, in the last two financial years, the allocation was diverted for other works. This year too the corporation has made a provision of Rs 10 crore. Civic officials say that since PMC is the nodal agency for implementing the project, the amount will be utilized as per its directions.

Apart from cost sharing, another operational issue of the Pimpri Swargate metro rail route is the time frame in which the underground part of the project will be completed. About 5 km of the 16.59 km of the route passes through congested areas of Pune city. “The metro rail route cannot be made operational until the entire construction work is completed. Construction of the underground metro aspect is a major factor in the Pimpri Swargate route,” a PCMC official said.

Meanwhile, more changes are being suggested to this corridor. Elected office-bearers of PCMC want that Pimpri-Swargate route be extended at Pimpri end by another 6 km up to Nigdi and on the Swargate end, they want the project to be extended by another 6 km up to Katraj. “The metro route extending up to only Pimpri is not of much use to the residents of the city. The metro route has to be extended to Nigdi so that more people are benefitted. The civic general body has approved a resolution in this regard. Further our municipal limits extends till Kiwale and Mamurdi which are closer to the international cricket stadium in Gahunje,” says PCMC ruling party leader Mangala Kadam.

PCMC officials say that as of now, there is no change in the original route as proposed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The proposal as envisaged by DMRC has been sent to the state government for approval”, the official said.

Other issues: Coach maintenance depot for Pimpri-Swargate route proposed at the Agriculture college at Shivajinagar: College authorities have maintained that they will not part with their land for the project.

Additional FSI in Pimpri Chinchwad limits along the metro corridor for raising funds: May not yield the desired results as many properties along the corridor are owned by government institutions such as the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Haffkine Institute, College of Military Engineering on one side, and railway property on the other.

Land acquisition: Officials say acquiring land in Pimpri Chinchwad is not a major problem. The Pimpri end of the metro rail will end at Morwadi where a terminus needs to be built and therefore land needs to be acquired. At other places, land would be acquired easily, officials said.