Mumbai: Despite missing five deadlines for the completion of the city’s first metro project, the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor is yet to be completed with the latest deadlibe being scheduled for May 2013.

Following a Right to Information query filed by activist Anil Galgali to Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), a government body, it is now known that only 76.66 per cent of work in the construction of 12 stations on the 11.4km line on a elevated viaduct and 92 per cent of structural work has been completed. “They have now extended the new deadline to May this year when only a part of the services will be started from Versova to Airport station,” says Galgali.

Reliance Infrastructure has undertaken this mammoth project over some of the most congested suburbs of the city. Once in operation, a 60- to 80-minute journey from Versova to Ghatkopar would be reduced to 20 minutes and take passengers in airconditioned coaches from the western to eastern suburbs crossing the railway line at Andheri and swing across the Western Express Highway over an existing flyover to the international airport and other stations like Chakala, Saki Naka and Asalpha.

The MMRDA, after obtaining information from Reliance’s Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd, stated that the various deadlines missed for the completion of the project were July 2010, September 2010, July 2011, March 2012 and November 2012.

Galgali raised doubts on the present deadline in May and urged Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to ensure that no compromise would be made on the quality of construction to meet the deadline. He said: “The government should start services only after it is assured of absolute safe operations which can be ascertained only after the structural audit report is received by the government. It is possible that Mumbai’s first metro may meet the same fate as the Delhi Metro which had to suspend its services after delay due to technical issues.”

On the information sought on the status of inquiry into the various mishaps that occurred during construction work, the MMRDA has informed that a total of seven mishaps resulted in six deaths and 17 workers being injured for which the MMOPL has paid a compensation Rs4.9 million (Dh327,800). The MMRDA has levied fines amounting to Rs4.65 million.

“What is interesting is that the government has safeguarded its interests regarding cost escalation since the onus is on MMOPL and MMRDA will not suffer any losses due to the delay and cost escalation,” says Galgali.

According to the RTI reply, the cost of the metro project, a first public private partnership is Rs23.56 billion. The MMRDA is a 26 per cent stakeholder in the project while the central government is pooling in Rs4.71 billion out of a total amount of Rs6.50 billion of viability gap funding, while the balance of Rs1.79 billion is shared by the Maharashtra government and MMRDA.