Sunday, September 06, 2009

Metro is moving

Metro is moving

With the aim of meeting its deadlines, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is cracking the whip on contractors who are not delivering and, in some cases, even offloading work piles. In an interview with Senthalir S, BMRCL managing director N Sivasailam gives the current status of the Namma Metro project in the city, while answering questions on slum rehabilitation, environment protection and what citizens can expect from this mode of transport that is set to change the face of the city

Senthalir S

q When will the average Bangalorean commuter finally be able to use the Metro? When will we be able to buy tickets and get station drops?
In December 2010 for the stretch between Byappanahalli to MG Road. (Reach 1)

q When will the rolling stocks come to the city?
Rolling stocks are expected to arrive in October-November 2010.

q When will testing trial runs begin on the routes?
Testing will begin as soon as we receive the rolling stocks.

q On the comfort and aesthetic front, what can a Bangalorean expect from the coaches? Is it going to be on the same model of the Delhi metro or will there be a local touch to promote Karnataka?
It will be aesthetically more pleasing as we have not planned a front emergency evacuation as in the Delhi metro. The interiors will be close to the Delhi pattern, with additional features like surveillance cameras in each car and LCD TVs for news, advertisement and music.

q Any plans to make the viaduct more citizen friendly?
Yes. The form will be worked out after the testing and trials.

q The underground section of Metro was to begin in February-March. Why is there a delay? What are your plans to meet the deadline?
There is no delay. Pre- works like alternative roads, utility shifting, tree removal, etc, have already started and the work is on schedule.

q What are the other innovative measures being planned for the smooth running of Metro?
We are in discussion with BMTC for feeder buses for all the metro stations, with a single ticket system. We'll provide smart cards with e-purse application. We are in discussion with one of India's largest banks for this application.

q Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation was planning to take strict action against Reach 3 contractor IDEB-SUCG JV (joint venture) for the delay in executing Reach 3 of the project. What is the current status? Has there been any progress in the work or do you plan to off load work from the contractors?
The contractor has been asked to give a revised programme for the works he is likely to complete within the schedule. With regard to the works already delayed, BMRCL has offloaded the piling works and assigned it to another agency for expeditious completion.

q The escalation cost of Phase 1 has reached Rs12,000 crore. Will it affect the fares?
Yes, the fare will be on par with Delhi metro rates in the range of Rs8 to 18. However, a final decision will be taken after the financial closure.

q What is the rehabilitation plan for the slums that would make way for Metro?
BMRCL is building a good 754 sq foot of duplex row housing at a cost of Rs7.45 lakh per house at Peenya and at Magadi road to rehabilitate the identified slum dwellers coming in the corridor of Metro.

q How many slums have been identified so far?
So far, only two slums — Basaveswara slum and Jai Bheem Nagar slum — have been identified for the rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
qHow are the safety aspects of Metro monitored?
Safety during construction and safety during operations are two different aspects. We ensure the former by a tool kit meeting every day before start of work. We check aspects like wearing hard helmets, hard boots, safety belts, vests, etc, depending on the kind of work. These are monitored by the contractor's safety supervisor at the site and in addition by the safety experts of GC to BMRCL. Also, a weekly and a monthly safety induction meeting is conducted at the contractor's premises by the safety officers of GC to BMRCL. There is also inspection by the other officers of BMRCL during work. An efficient quality assurance system is in place to monitor and check the quality of work, which is comparable to international standards. BMRCL has formulated a Safety, Health and Environmental manual (SHEM), which is an essential part of all contracts.

q What steps will Metro take to reduce damage to the environment? Many Bangaloreans have expressed concern for the environment while the Metro rail is being constructed.
Namma Metro is environment friendly. Though there have been a number of trees identified as coming in the Metro corridor, we have a team of experts looking into the actual requirement of tree felling and for pruning. Though law stipulates that for every tree that is cut, three saplings have to be planted, BMRCL has planted ten saplings for every tree cut. In addition, we are also planning to plant more trees and working towards the identification of spaces for this purpose.

q Which Reach do you think would be the most difficult, in terms of terrain, manpower and topography?
Since the work methods are the same for all, it is difficult to identify the most difficult one. The underground works would be challenging since it is the first time that such work is being done in the Deccan plateau.


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