After a six-year delay and failure to meet seven deadlines, the Namma Metro Phase I will be fully open to public by the end of May, if all goes well.
Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited officials maintain that all tests conducted have obtained positive results and the Commissioner of Railway Safety will be invited in the next few days to inspect the Green Line.
“Since the Peenya line is functional, we are able to conduct the tests only at night. We should be able to call the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for inspection towards the end of this week, and by May we will be opening the stretch for public,” said UA Vasanth Rao, Chief PRO, BMRCL.
“The sub-system installation is complete and testing is going on. The interior finishing works might prevent the line from being opened on the scheduled date. Besides, the CRS will also take their own sweet time to provide the safety certificate,” a senior official said.
The project, which was supposed to be operational in 2011, has failed to meet seven deadlines, the latest being in November 2016. These delays have costed the BMRCL a pretty penny with the current cost of this metro line standing at Rs. 338 crore as opposed to the 2011 estimate of Rs. 194 crore.
“BMRCL has spent Rs 14,292 crore till January 2017. This amount is almost triple the estimated amount of Rs 6,395 crore, which was sanctioned in 2006. The project took off only in 2007 and work began late in 2008,” Rao added.
The costs were further revised due to the increase in land prices due to the delay in work. Finally, in January 2011, the project cost was revised to Rs 11,609 but at the time, both the government and the BMRCL did not anticipate the price escalation, the senior official said.
BMRCL had submitted the latest data pertaining to the project to the Ministry of Urban Development and currently, the approved cost for the project is Rs 14,405 crore. Another official with the BMRCL said that the delay was also cause as the project implementation was affected badly as BMRCL’s Managing Directors changes as and when the Karnataka governments changed.
“The MDs are not allowed to work freely and the government officials are always hindering the process. Every government has appointed MDs according to its convenience. They did not take into consideration the sheer amount of money that would be wasted because of unnecessary delays,” the official added.
The irked official also said that there is absolutely no coordination between the government agencies, state agencies and the metro officials.
“There is always a row over every issue, especially transfer of utilities. Take the example of the Ambedkar statue near Vidhana Soudha. They mulled over the issue of removing it or not and delayed the underground project for a year. There are too many agencies involved and all of them work at a snail’s pace,” the senior official said.
He said that the government and the BMRCL have to keep in mind all the errors that have occurred during Phase I and try not to succumb to the same during Phase II construction. “The taxpayers will face the brunt of the project as the cost will skyrocket if Phase II does not go according to schedule,” he added.