Two new Metro rail lines in Mumbai, fiscal managers raise red flag

On Tuesday, the Cabinet cleared proposals for Metro 9 (Dahisar-Mira Road-Bhayander) and Metro 7A (Andheri-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport).

THE STATE government has approved two new Metro rail routes in Mumbai, which would collectively be worth Rs 5,524 crore. On Tuesday, the Cabinet cleared proposals for Metro 9 (Dahisar-Mira Road-Bhayander) and Metro 7A (Andheri-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport). The Dahisar-Mira Bhayander route will be 10.41-km elevated corridor, whereas the Andheri-CSIM airport route will be 3.17 km, of which 2.12 km is proposed to be constructed as an underground route. Incidentally, the Cabinet nod came even as the state’s finance department had opposed the condition that the government would have to bear a subordinate debt of Rs 1,631 crore for the two new routes.

With the debt mounting on the state exchequer, the fiscal managers had announced a policy decision at the start of 2018-2019 that they won’t accept any financial liability for Metro projects, which were supposed to be entirely funded through off-budget borrowings.

The finance department had raised questions on the approval being sought for two more Metro lines when the work for building of four other approved Metro lines, being implemented by the MMRDA, was still underway.

But the Cabinet voted in favour of the contention of the chief minister-led urban development department, which countered both the arguments on the ground that the construction of the Metro lines was in public interest.

The Cabinet approved a proposal to allow higher buildable areas for buildings within 500 meters of the new Metro lines. Incidentally, Mumbai’s new development control regulations do not contain such a provision. The UD department has said it plans to raise Rs 4,495 crore by way of increase in development charges that would be payable in such influence zones. It has further estimated that another Rs 3,811 crore will be collected through a proposal of levying an additional 1 per cent duty on stamp collection in the district.

To raise resources for Metro projects, the government has indicated plans to levy additional cess on land and buildings in the influence region, cess on fuel, besides increase in registration costs of private vehicles and increase in professional tax collections.

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