One of the city’s most ambitious projects, the 33.5-km fully underground Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz), has been majorly affected by the coronavirus-enforced lockdown. While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) was looking at completing tunnelling work by December 2020, lack of labourers, machinery and disruptions in the supply chain during the lockdown have most likely delayed work to beyond February 2021.
According to officials, MMRC was undertaking tunnelling at a speed of 1,500 metre per month before the lockdown, which has reduced to 600m in the past two-and-a-half months. The number of labourers had reduced from 15,000 to 4,000 on site, which has now improved to 6,000 as migrant labourers have started coming to the city. Eighty-three per cent of the tunnelling work and 57% of the overall work have been completed.
A senior official from MMRC said, “There has been a major disruption in the supply chain, availability of labour and even spare parts. Despite that, we have completed 45.6km of tunnelling work. While we did aim for December 2020 to complete tunnelling work, it might go beyond February 2021 now.” It is the stretch between Mahalakshmi and Mumbai Central that would spill over to 2021, the official said.
While MMRC was expecting the first rolling stock by December 2020, that might also be delayed owing to the lockdown. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, under chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, has also stalled the car-shed work at Aarey Colony, which would further derail the project. Thackeray stalled the work in November 2019 and appointed a committee to look at alternative options for the car-shed. However, the state is yet to take a call on it.
The earlier deadline for phase 1 of the fully underground corridor was June 2021, which was revised to December 2021, owing to delays caused by legal battles.
In 2017, MMRC had estimated that even a day’s delay in Metro-3 would cost ₹4.2 crore. The project cost has already escalated from ₹23,000 crore to ₹32,000 crore.
Two Metro lines that were to be operational by December 2020 had also been pushed to April 2021.