The BMRCL recently commissioned for public use South India’s first underground Metro tunnel. Pradeep Singh Kharola, MD, BMRCL, tells Mahesh Kulkarni the Corporation is fast-tracking work to complete Phase-1 in the next six months. Edited excerpts:
Work on Phase-1 started nine years ago and is still not complete. Why has it taken so much time?
Work got delayed mainly due to the underground terrain which has granite rock. The tunnel boring machine had to go very slow due to this. We also had to keep in mind the population density on the ground and old buildings.
When will you complete Phase-1?
We have completed work on 33 km length. The balance tunnel work (400 m) on North-South corridor will be completed in four months. We are aiming to fully operationalise Phase-1 by November 1.
How many people in all did you employ for the project?
At the peak of work on the Majestic underground terminal, we had engaged 1,600 workers. We also had 105 foreign engineers to work on the underground tunnel which was a first-of-its-kind job for us. We have employed 1,600 permanent workers and 500 on contract basis. As we expand, we will recruit more people for daily operations.
Where have you sourced the trains from?
Our trains are jointly made by Rotem Hyundai and BEML Ltd. These machines were designed by Rotem Hyundai and some parts of coaches were assembled at BEML’s factory in Bengaluru. Each coach can carry 300 people.
When are you starting work on Phase-2?
We have already begun with the extension of the East-West corridor at the Mysore Road end and extension of the North-South corridor at the Kanakapura Road end. Contracts have been finalised for Mysore Road and work has started. We hope to complete it in three years. For the new lines to be built in Phase-2, we are in the process of acquiring land.
What is the estimated cost of Phase-2 and how will you source the funds?
The cost is estimated at Rs. 26,405 crore. The funding pattern will be the same as for Phase-1, with 55% equity and 45% debt. The equity portion will be contributed by both state and central governments while debt will be arranged through market borrowing and overseas funding agencies. We have already tied up with French funding agency AFD for R2,000 crore. We are also in talks with German agency KfW and JICA. Besides, we have approval for going to the domestic markets with a R1,000 crore bond programme.
What is the current ridership and how many commuters do you expect once Phase-1 is operational?
At present, about 55,000 people are using the Metro. With the East-West corridor becoming operational, we expect around two lakh people every day. Once Phase-1 is complete, we could have five lakh commuters every day.