A friend just told me I should be happy because Mumbai will finally have its metro. She said, I carp and complain all the time. Okay, I am happy. And yet, in my happiness and joy, I am compelled to pen a few points.

1. This is Phase I which will end in 2009 end or so. While I have greater faith in Reliance's (the company who has bagged the contract) execution abilities, this is not a purely private initiative. Purely private initiatives (including levelling entire mills in weeks) are capable of immense execution focus. Am not sure about public-private. Mumbai airport's new arrival terminal is a case in point. Its considerably delayed the chap doing it is `private'.

2. Phase I is a east-west connector in the north of the city. Very useful for those who are living in those parts but zero impact for anyone else.

3. Phase II and III are what will really matter because they will connect the city's north-south axis. Targeted completion is 2021. Without revealing embarassing details about my age, let me assure you I will not even be able to think young at that time. And there is no guarantee it will be done by 2021. Maybe you can start telling the building of the Metro story to your children who in turn will narrate it to their grand children. Who might just about be able to experience it. You think I am kidding, ask anyone who lived in Calcutta in the 70s.

What Next ?

By then, what will happen to this city ? I have no clue. We are 18 million and straining at every inch. The roads are giving in, water is a problem and there are not enough health services. So, children are suffering from malnourishment in the middle of the city..Implosion is a good word but in India things do not implode. They maintain a steady rate of descent into a never ending abyss of decay.

And what it is it going to take to build all this ? You can forget about smooth traffic movements. That does not exist even today. Its a nightmare travelling east-west or west-east in Bombay. What is worse than the nightmare that is ? Search me. Bombay's metro builders would be wise to seek the counsel of Delhi Metro's E Sreedharan. At least he will figure out how to manage traffic while putting up a metro track in the middle of the city. So, should I be happy ? What do you think !


Well, Yippee, Bangalore is to get Metro by 2011. First phase to begin August 2006 and end sometime in 2009. This has been made public in today's State Government ad for the innauguration ceremony this afternoon (24th April). I am pinching myself first, to make sure this is not one of my many strange dreams. I'll also not hold my breath because something so simple, may become quite complicated as time goes by and Governments change. Poor us. Can you imagine the chaos thats going to have on Bangaloreans while they work on this project? You'd need a face mask with independant Oxygen supply to navigate through the traffic and dust. Well, you'd need it now too, by the way.
Anonymous said…
atleast there is something on paper now, atleast there is something underway, atleast there is some hope. I sound like a typical hopeful indian, but yes, I do see a bright future. If delhi metro can happen, so can bombay or bangalore. For once we need to be positive. :)
ppp said…
all your doubts are very real and the fact remains that one can only hope. but one thing which no one ever talks about is citizen-community-conservation kind of participation. few want to use public transport or take that effort of car pool. if you can afford to pay, you dont mind wasting water and electricity. few among us actually carry that weightless plastic wrapper of chips till a bin is spotted. it is not just about failures of the systems. i have not seen any efforts of that sort in schools, colleges, offices. have you?
Bombay Addict said…
Govind - couldn't help a smile at your post title. Only I was expecting a "!" at the end !

On 1 - PPP is probably the only way forward. I doubt the State Govt can shell out this kind of money. Also note that after the World Bank-MUTP muck-up, the State Govt is looking at taking aid from JBIC which, I think, has funded the Delhi Metro.

2. Fair point. In fact if I recall right, C. Prabhu had made a similar point sometime back. The only conjecture I can make is that this was probably the leg with the least resistance, for eg - Colaba-Charkop would be too much too soon and ditto for phase 3 (which in any case consists of a lot of other legs).

3. Smile again. I will be all of 50 myself - and come on, I thought age was only a number ! Coming back to your point, indeed there is no guarantee but I will come to that later.

On traffic and ensuing chaos - is there any other way to achieve this ? I think if we're convinced that we need the Metro, then we will have to take this chaos.

There is no easy way out surely ? Unless - and as Debi Goenka suggests - the Govt considered Skybus (would also involve chaos) and implementation of MUTP III and IV (i.e. extension, upgradation, etc of existing railways - which, I think, is being done anyways irresp. of Metro).

Also, I think DMRC has been involved in this project. [Links here and here].

So - what's the guarantee of all this ? There is none. But here are my 2p thoughts.

The Metro is a 30-year old project that's finally taking off now. No point looking at the past as to why this wasn't done earlier, etc. We've discussed how our politicians let us down, etc. We also discussed how handing the city to the MMRDA/Dr. Chandra Shekhar could be an idea (btw, I'm sure you saw yesterday's TOI where he's nixed the idea of a CEO for the city).

I think that today is far more different than 30 years back. A lot of things have changed for the worse and too few for the better. IMHO, these few include the media which can play a larger part in keeping us up-to-date with how the Metro is progressing, planned v/s actual, etc. (ok, ok, I'm being optimistic, but humour me!)

The other tool we have with us now is the Right to Information Act. I think that citizens can now ask more of their Governments and their agencies through this tool. I am well aware that this tool can be misused and I'm also aware that the Govt itself is over-loaded with too many applications as we speak. But the fact remains that we citizens have this tool and we should use it. The point obviously being accountability - the Govt is accountable to us and we have a method to ask them questions.

I know where you're coming from. I've been there. Living all my life in this city is enough to drain me of hope. But - is there any other choice ?

Appreciate your thoughts.
Anonymous said…

I am with you on this one, before we get all excited about this metro system let's remind ourselves that we have yet to create dedicated bus lanes, that would be step 1, even that takes us so long. I see the semblance of a bus lane on the western express highway but that has now become cricket pitch and drying balcony and open air toilets for the nearby slums.

Cities, and I am not referring to the LA's , Shanghai's and Seouls of the world...Bogota and Curitiba are fantastic examples on how BRT can ease city traffic with not as much capex involved. Its all about the will to change.

We sufer from this extreme syndrome, its either state of the art metro system or the lousy roads with enroachments. Considering in-betweens is a non-no and anyhow BRT should have been the first system to be put in place considering the city's population explosion.

I have my doubts on Anil's Reliance pulling this one off. REL is not known for projects...some EPC's here and there don't count for much, maybe Connex will play a more significant role here.

It's all very well- this metro system etc...but the daily struggle makes you wish you had guts of steel....
Anonymous said…
Forget how old we will be can you imagine actually surviving bombay till 2021. When gurudas kamat made this point i actually sat and read his objections - very sane and sensible for a politico or his abilities !
And its not Reliance doing this project, its REL. Big difference. We only need to look back to 26/7 to know how its going to fare. We are better off having skybus' and metros that can be integrated with the existing rail network.
This project is doomed from the start.
Anonymous said…
I have always believed that by the time India gets its act together, it won't matter. I say that because now it's boom time now(if I can call it a boom with all this muck and misery called "india's metros" are anything to go by) and bust time is around the corner...sometime in the not too distant future. This country will turn into the biggest slum in the world if the present 'growth' story goes bust(like as if it isn't one already). And the bust will come, it's a cycle. The americans, with their discipline could handle the dotcom bust and everything else that followed. But we will get fried down to the bones. All that will be left will be caste divisions, regional dissent, religious intolerance and a nation in debt. Prime target for a repeat of history when a certain east india company landed on our shores pretending to do business. Deja vu?
Anonymous said…
Dear Bombay Addict / PS

BA, thanks for as usual adding method to my madness and providing the right links !

So, you if you would be 50 in 2021, you would be....almost as
old as me today..

PS, I don't even think we can talk of a boom anymore. The markets are already in retreat. I can already sense India Inc beginning to hold back. The exuberance is over. It may not be a bust but another go-go cycle seems to have ended ! So, where that leaves all our half-ambitious plans, I wonder..

Anonymous said…
HI !
Certainly good to hear some prgress in Mumbai and other cities wrt Busways. I am from Mumbai, but working in Jakarta. Here in the city, they started implemnting the Busway and within 3 years they are going to have 7 busways covering the entire city.
You can have a look at the routes and the way it is planned in the link below (Its in Indonesian Language but the graphics are clear). Waiitng for over 10-15 years for a solution is not good. By that time it entire lgistics could be different. We need to speed up and build it within 2-3 years as they have done it in JKT.

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