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Monday, June 27, 2022

Contrast between Mumbai metro and Meerut RRTS projects shows difference between ‘secular and communal’ governments

The Mumbai Metro project has been facing one hurdle after the other, thanks to the inefficiency and indecisiveness of the current ruling MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) dispensation led by Uddhav Thackeray.

Following the cash crunch that has already delayed the project, comes the news of Alstom canceling its Rs. 1853 crores worth contract for the project of coaches for Mumbai metro’s fourth line and its extension citing delays. As per reports, the company stated that there were several other issues in addition to the delay in handing over land for a car depot that led to taking the decision to pull out of the project. It is worth noting, however, that the company said in a press release in July last year that it has already started manufacturing trains for the high-speed Meerut Rapid Regional Transit System (RRTS).

While CM Yogi Adityanath prioritized the Delhi-Meerut RRTS as soon as he came to power in 2017, the Mumbai Metro project has seen one delay after the other first under the then Congress-NCP regime and now under the current MVA dispensation. “While the first Metro corridor recommended in the Mumbai Metro master plan 11 years ago rolled out in the city last month, the rest of the plan, which had originally envisaged the creation of a 146.5-km network by 2021, has undergone sweeping changes”, noted a 2014 report by The Indian Express that should give us a fair idea of the kind of priority the Congress-NCP combine gave to infrastructure projects.

In 2014, Reliance Industries pulled out of the project as the Maharashtra government had failed to fulfill certain critical obligations. The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government then tried to expedite the project for which it sought help from Delhi Metro. “A formal nod has been given by the state to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to revise and update Mumbai Metro Master Plan for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)”, reported DNA.

Under the Fadnavis regime, the Mumbai Metro received a major boost as two financial institutions, namely the Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, agreed to partially fund the project. As per a Hindustan Times report, “In a major boost to the Mumbai metro projects in the city, two multilateral financial institutions have agreed to fund Rs13,660 crore for four metro projects”.

Even as the process started gathering pace under the Fadnavis government, woke activists stepped in to put a spanner in the works. The Aarey Metro Shed issue was raised by a group of shady NGOs working at the behest of missionaries. On the face of it, it appeared like a protest by NGOs concerned about the environment. But once one dug deeper into the activities and antecedents of the NGOs, the real story of missionary-funded NGOs trying to derail development in Bharat under the garb of environmental protection became clear.

Mumbai Metro was jeopardized, on the one hand by woke activists, and on the other by an indecisive coalition that the Shiv Sena had cobbled up by joining the ‘secular’ NCP-Congress combine. Ever since it came to power, the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) coalition has been running around like a headless chicken which has been proved time and again by its actions and decisions. One of the major decisions of the previous BJP-led government that were overturned by the MVA government was the Mumbai Metro 3 Car Shed project. The decision was reversed not due to any sound reasoning but only to feed the ego of Uddhav Thackeray and his minister son Aditya Thackeray.

The project was being funded by Japan and despite, the Japanese Ambassador writing to CM Uddhav Thackeray about the imminent cash crunch as early as February last year, the MVA cabinet has remained indecisive. As a result, Mumbai Metro ran into the real possibility of stagnation which appears to be further confirmed with Alstom’s decision to cancel the order.

Even as the MVA government kept dilly-dallying, the Delhi-Meerut RRTS gathered steam with the Centre, which is a part of the joint venture, approving the construction estimated to be worth Rs. 30,274 in February 2019. Reports indicate that RRTS could hit the tracks sooner than expected with the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), mandated with implementation of the RRTS project, expecting to deliver its promise about a year in advance.

While 303 to a single party allows complex laws such as CAA and repealing of Article 370 a cakewalk or a 304 gives the UP government an edge in decision making thereby speeding up much-needed infrastructure projects, MVA style khichdi sarkar delays even the simplest and most straightforward decisions due to which ultimately it is the citizens who suffer.

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