Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday laid the foundation stone for the much-delayed underground Metro for the city, which will connect South Mumbai to the economic zone in Andheri — a route that connects various locations in the West of the city.

Work on the much-awaited Rs231.36 billion (Dh14.03 billion) Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone) Metro-3 corridor is all set to take off, a little over a year after the project received federal approval. The 32.5-km Metro will be entirely an underground network with 27 air-conditioned stations boasting state-of-the-art facilities and providing another option for north-south connectivity — although one offering far more comfort.

Starting from Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai, stations along the new Metro line will include Vidhan Bhavan, Churchgate, Girgaon, Science Museum, Siddhi Vinayak, Seetla Devi Temple, Dharavi, BKC Metro, both domestic and international airports, Marol Naka, Andheri (SEEPZ) and lastly a car depot in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon-east. It is expected to carry 1.39 million commuters daily by 2021 and 1.7 million by 2031.

The Metro corridor will be the first to be constructed by the newly constituted Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) though the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has played a major role in the planning and designing of this rail project.

The ground-breaking ceremony was also attended by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party leaders, among others. With the state set to go into election mode any day, ministers of Maharashtra’s two ruling parties at the function recounted the long list of projects completed by the Congress-NCP government and sought to impress upon the gathered audience that it was during the last ten years that the face of Mumbai had changed with several infrastructure projects given the go-ahead by the United Progressive Alliance government of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The state government is in a hurry to inaugurate or initiate major projects since the Election Commission will be announcing the election dates after which the state has to observe the model code of conduct and no new project announcements may be made subsequently.

The Pune Metro plan also looks set to be launched next week even though the groundwork and technical details for the Metro are incomplete.

Meanwhile, Dilip Kawathkar, Joint Project Director, MMRDA, said, “Public transport in Mumbai has seen a rapid change after the inauguration of the first Metro [Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar] and the first monorail [Wadala to Chembur]. The Metro-3 corridor is expected to be completed in the next seven years and is financed by the Government of Maharashtra, Government of India, along with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.”