Despite the delays caused by Covid-19, MahaMetro is looking to operationalise two priority stretches in the city before the end of the year
With the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) completing the first inspection recently, hope has arisen that the Pune Metro project would be able to operationalise its first two stretches before the end of this year. This is significant as the project has lost nearly eight months of activity since the onset of the pandemic last year, with Pune reporting a high number of Covid-19 cases and witnessing the migration of labour on account of lockdowns.
Says Hemant Sonawane, GM, MahaMetro Rail Corporation, the nodal agency for the project, “The inspection by CMRS is an important milestone, as it is the CMRS that authorises the opening of a Metro corridor, though there will be multiple inspections before final certification is granted.” There was only 40-50% of labour on the sites for three-four months because of the surge in Covid-19 cases and this affected the pace of work, he adds. The end of the second Covid wave has allowed 70-80% of labour to return to the sites, ensuring a pick-up in work on the project.
The first phase of the Pune Metro project entails construction of two corridors – Corridor-1 from Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to Swargate (17.4 km) and Corridor-2 from Vanaz to Ramvadi (15.7 km) – with a total length of 33.2 km. The two priority stretches MahaMetro is looking to operationalise this year extend from PCMC to Dapodi on Corridor-1 (7.5 km) and from Vanaz to Garware College (5.1 km) on Corridor-2 – technical trial runs on the Vanaz to Garware College stretch commenced last Thursday.
Apart from these two corridors, a third line is to be built in public private partnership mode, with the Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority having signed an agreement with TRIL Urban Transport, a subsidiary of Tata Realty, and Siemens Project Ventures, a subsidiary of Siemens Financial Services, for the 23.3-km line from Hinjewadi to Shivajinagar. Land acquisition challenges had delayed start of work on the Rs 8,100-crore project. With the state government approving in May ’21 leasing of 4.75 ha at Balewadi to the Tata-Siemens venture for commercial use, decks have been cleared for work to start on Line 3.
While the government had earlier announced that all the three lines would be operational by 2022, the delays caused by the pandemic and land acquisition issues mean this timeline is not likely to be met.
Half of the Rs 11,420-crore expenditure on the Phase 1 project is being borne by the Centre and state government (20% each) and the Pune Municipal Corporation and PCMC (5% each). The remaining money is being raised through loans from EIB and Agence Francaise de Development (AFD). EIB has approved a loan of Euro 600 mn (Rs 5,400 crore) for the project while AFD is providing Euro 245 mn (Rs 2,000 crore).
With the city having grown significantly since the first phase of the project was conceived, need is already being felt to extend the approved corridors and build new ones. Thus, detailed project reports (DPRs) are in the works for 123.5 km of lines. The state government has already approved lines with a total length of 82.5 km. Work on a 4.4-km extension of Corridor-1, from PCMC to Nigdi, is likely to start first, with the government forwarding its DPR to the Centre in April ’21. The DPR for an extension of Corridor-1 from Swargate to Katraj is in the process of being approved by the civic body in Pune. An extension of Line 3 from Shivajinagar to Hadapsar has also been mooted.