Vizag and Vijayawada Metro Rail projects yet to take off

Visakhapatnam/Vijayawada: “The Government of India shall examine the feasibility of Metro Rail facility in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali Metropolitan Urban Development Authority within period of one year from the appointed day and take an expeditious decision thereon.” – A.P. Reorganisation Act 2014.

Much before the A.P. Reorganisation Act 2014 was published on March 1 promised examining the feasibility of Metro Rail in Visakhapatnam, an exercise had begun on mass transit for the city.

The Working Group on Urban Transport constituted by the Planning Commission has given guidelines on option of mass transport, including Metro, for cities with a population of above 20 lakh as per the census of 2011. The MoUD (Ministry of Urban Development) took a decision to support preparation of detailed project reports.

Population benchmark

After lowering the population benchmark for Metro rail network from 40 lakh to 20 lakh, a letter was written to the Government of India on the scope of approval for survey in early 2013. With the growth in population and merger of neighbouring areas the population was expected to touch the 2 million mark in the next few years meeting the benchmark.

The City Development Plan also suggested Metro Rail Project on a length of 43 km that includes part of the corridors later finalised for Metro.

As early as in 2009, the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU) conducted a review of the Urban Transport Sector and suggested an integrated transport system stating that the travel demand will increase from 2 million motorised trips to 4 million a day by 2021.

The report was prepared in 2009 and now 2021 is not far away.

In the backdrop of all these factors, Visakhapatnam was one of the three cities selected by UNEP for Low Carbon Mobility Plan.

Envisaging future business districts in Gajuwaka, Pendurti and Madhurawada, it suggested mass transit corridors on a stretch of 47.23 km.

In its initial efforts, GVMC sought approval from MoUD through GoAP to initiate Metro Rail Project Preparation activities like detailed feasibility study/detailed project report as per the Metro Rail Policy, 2013 and its support to prepare DPR/feasibility report.

After the approval, consultants were invited for carrying out a survey and the State Government’s approval sought to form a committee for evaluation comprising DMRC and SEPT University of Ahmedabad and officials. But it did not materialise.

In the initial days after the Reorganisation Act was passed GVMC officials were euphoric stating that with the special category status Metro Rail would be funded to the extent of 90 % by the Centre.

After the elections in 2014, the State Government has appointed DMRC as interim consultant for its Metro Rail project and Metro Man E. Sridharan as its advisor on Metro projects.

DMRC prepares DPR

A Detailed Project Report was prepared by DMRC covering three corridors. Though initially it covered up to NAD Junction from Kommadi, it was later extended to Gajuwaka on representations from MLAs. The other two corridors are from Gurudwara to Old Post Office and Tatichetlapalem to Park Hotel. The ₹2.5 crore cost of preparing the DPR was footed equally by the Central and State Governments.

The DPR was submitted to the government in August/September 2015 for 42.55 km – up to Gajuwaka- and after Cabinet approval it was sent to the Union Government.

The Union Government called for remarks which are being replied to by Amaravti Metro Rail Corporation under which Vizag Metro comes now.

The Union Government also advised to go in for public private participation mode for Vizag Metro.

The project is envisaged for completion in four years from Oct, 2015 i.e, by 2019.