A friend just told me I should be happy because Mumbai will finally have its metro. She said, I carp and complain all the time. Okay, I am happy. And yet, in my happiness and joy, I am compelled to pen a few points.
1. This is Phase I which will end in 2009 end or so. While I have greater faith in Reliance's (the company who has bagged the contract) execution abilities, this is not a purely private initiative. Purely private initiatives (including levelling entire mills in weeks) are capable of immense execution focus. Am not sure about public-private. Mumbai airport's new arrival terminal is a case in point. Its considerably delayed the chap doing it is `private'.
2. Phase I is a east-west connector in the north of the city. Very useful for those who are living in those parts but zero impact for anyone else.
3. Phase II and III are what will really matter because they will connect the city's north-south axis. Targeted completion is 2021. Without revealing embarassing details about my age, let me assure you I will not even be able to think young at that time. And there is no guarantee it will be done by 2021. Maybe you can start telling the building of the Metro story to your children who in turn will narrate it to their grand children. Who might just about be able to experience it. You think I am kidding, ask anyone who lived in Calcutta in the 70s.
What Next ?
By then, what will happen to this city ? I have no clue. We are 18 million and straining at every inch. The roads are giving in, water is a problem and there are not enough health services. So, children are suffering from malnourishment in the middle of the city..Implosion is a good word but in India things do not implode. They maintain a steady rate of descent into a never ending abyss of decay.
And what it is it going to take to build all this ? You can forget about smooth traffic movements. That does not exist even today. Its a nightmare travelling east-west or west-east in Bombay. What is worse than the nightmare that is ? Search me. Bombay's metro builders would be wise to seek the counsel of Delhi Metro's E Sreedharan. At least he will figure out how to manage traffic while putting up a metro track in the middle of the city. So, should I be happy ? What do you think !
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