Ahmedabad tryst with modern and environment-friendly public transport began a week before the Model Code of Conduct was implemented, with a 6.5-km stretch (Vastral-Apparel Park) of Phase-I (41 km) of the Metro project being flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Weeks earlier, the 28.2-km-long Phase-II of the project connecting the twin cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar had been accorded approval by the Union Cabinet. It has taken four years for the city’s Metro network to be launched since the ground-breaking ceremony for the project was performed in March, 2015. Conceptualised way back in 2003, the Rs 16,000-crore Metro project is expected to be fully operational by 2024. The 69-km network would not only boost connectivity in the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar urban region, but also ease traffic woes for over 60 lakh people, especially in the highly congested areas.
Funded by the Government of India and the Government of Gujarat on a 50:50 basis, the project is being executed by the Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (GMRC), a special purpose vehicle set up for the purpose. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has extended a soft loan of Rs 6,066 crore for the project.
Says Amit Gupta, chief general manager, GMRC, “work on the Rs 10,773-crore Phase-I is in full swing. It comprises two corridors. The North-South Corridor from Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) to Motera will cover 18.87 km, while the 21.16-km East-West Corridor will connect Vastral station in the east to Thaltej in western Ahmedabad. We are looking to complete Phase-I by July, 2020.”
An order has been placed with Hyundai Rotem for 96 Metro bogies (chair cars) which would cost Rs 1,770 crore. The electrification work for Phase-I is being done by Siemens at an estimated cost of Rs 600 crore. Phase-II of the project would cost around Rs 5,500 crore, Gupta says. It would connect Motera station in Ahmedabad to Mahatma Mandir, the venue for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, the biennial event for trade and investment organised by the Gujarat government since 2003.
The Gandhinagar Railway Station, under redevelopment as part of the Centre’s station redevelopment programme, is a stone’s throw from Mahatma Mandir. The second phase of the project would also connect Mahatma Mandir to the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, popularly known as GIFT City. As per the blueprint, the entire network would have 54 stations, of which 32 would be in Phase-I and 22, in Phase-II.
The project has faced several hurdles since it was conceptualised in 2003— Gujarat was only the second state in the country to propose a Metro network after the successful execution of the Delhi Metro rail project. While the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB) had engaged the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for a feasibility study in 2004, fund constraints saw the project being put on the back burner by the then Narendra Modi government in the state. In 2009, DMRC was once again commissioned by GIDB to prepare a detailed project report (DPR), with an SPV being formed to implement the project a year later. Construction work started in 2015 after the new Modi government at the Centre accorded the project necessary approvals.
Highlighting the benefits for Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar from a Metro network, a senior official of the state urban development department says, “besides providing its residents safe, efficient and environment-friendly connectivity, it would regulate urban expansion, allowing the urban authorities to use land for sustainable development.”