Why Pune, the city which approved its third metro line in March, faces pressure for route extensions

By: | Published: August 6, 2018 12:42 AM

A little known fact about Pune is of the number of private vehicles plying its streets being greater than its official population.

The East-West line costing Rs 7,628 cr is expected to be ready by 2021, while the North-South line costing Rs 3,894 crore is scheduled for completion in 2020.

A little known fact about Pune is of the number of private vehicles plying its streets being greater than its official population. A ratio of 1.05 for the number of private vehicles per person in 2018 only highlights the need for an upgrade of its public transport system. It was with this in mind that the authorities approved a third Metro corridor (23.30 km in length) for the city in March, 2018. To be built under PPP mode, the project saw Tata Realty Infra Pvt Ltd-Siemens Project Ventures GmbH emerging as the winning private bidder last Friday. It would partner with the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority for the work.

Construction work on two Metro corridors – from PCMC to Swargate (16.58 km) and Vanaz to Ramwadi (14.66 km) – is already underway. The East-West line costing Rs 7,628 cr is expected to be ready by 2021, while the North-South line costing Rs 3,894 crore is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Being executed by the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (Maha Metro), a JV of the Centre and the Maharashtra government, the two corridors are overground but for a 5-km stretch. The third line would link Hinjewadi, the IT hub in the west, to Shivajinagar in central Pune.

Significantly, even before the first column for Corridor 1 was put up, the authorities were besieged with calls for the Metro’s extension to different parts of the city. Public pressure has sent the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) scurrying back to the drawing board time and again, indicating the inadequacy of the original DPR. For instance, the PCMC has sent a fresh DPR for extending the network from Pimpri to Nigdi after residents pointed out that the North-South corridor would cover less than 50% of PCMC areas. Another extension of this corridor, connecting the industrial hub from Nashik Phata to Moshi/Chakan, is also being pushed. Earlier, the PMC had to bow to public pressure and propose extending this corridor from Swargate to Katraj. A proposal has also been placed to extend the line from Vanaz by 2.5 km to Chandini Chowk, an entry point to the city from the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway. At the other end of the Vanaz-Ramwadi corridor, there is a proposal to extend the line by 7 km to Wagholi.

For the third line, there are demands to extend it by 8 km to Hadapsar, billed as Pune’s next big IT hub. In all, there are five extension proposals on the table.

Ramnath Subramanian, ED, Maha Metro, says demands for the Metro’s extension only showed the difference it would make to the city’s public transport system. He, however, stresses the need to go through the process of route selection – preparation of DPR and its approval by the state and Union governments – if public demand is to translate into policy. Responding to the charge that the original DPR was dated, he points out that Maha Metro had no role to play in the selection of routes, with the decision being taken by governments.

Significantly, Phase-1 of the project presently under implementation is based on a DPR that was prepared almost a decade ago. Since then, there has been explosive growth in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, with the city’s limits expanding rapidly.

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