Saturday, March 24, 2007

Metro Rail work on track

Metro Rail work on track
The Times of India

Bangalore: Preparations for the Metro Rail are chugging along smoothly. The BMRCL is busy with shifting utilities, setting up casting yards, testing pillar pits, land surveys and acquisition. It has set up a casting yard at Indiranagar (near the BDA Complex) and engineers will start manufacturing pillars from March 23 for the 7-km Metro Rail alignment between M G Road and Byappanahalli.
Managing director V Madhu told The Times of India: “The 8-acre casting yard being set-up on military land taken over by the BMRCL will operate as a base camp for the project. We’re also working towards setting up five test pits to check the strength and length needed for the pillars.’’
Giving details about the stations, he said: “Construction of stations will be taken up as soon as we have shortlisted 15 contractors of the 19 who had submitted proposals and work will be awarded to them on March 24.’’
General Consultants — a consortium of various agencies working on design and development of the project will be in place by May 15. As far as the Byappanahalli depot, the first of the four major depots, is concerned, the design has been finalised and construction will commence soon.
On the acquisition of land and properties, a major hurdle for the authorities, the deadlock is expected to be resolved by April. The BMRCL has constituted a land committee headed by former secretary P S S Thomas, to determine the fair land value. The committee has appointed Trammell Crow Meghraj Property Consultants to assist it. The committee has visited various areas of the corridor to identify features of the land being acquired for sampling.
The committee had invited responses from those whose land has been acquired. While around 25 acres of land belonging to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India has already been acquired and possession taken, the defence ministry has agreed to transfer 101.72 acres of its land to BMRCL. “The land acquisition officer is expected to give his report by the month-end. Around 20 major properties need to be acquired for Phase I, and we hope the issue will be sorted out soon,’’ Madhu explained.
The authority has also started survey work to shift the utilities for the 26-km stretch coming under East and West corridor of the project in the Central Business District.
Talk about the Metro Rail and every Bangalorean’s first question is: “When will we go on the first ride?” The answer is March, 2010, as things stand now. It may not be wrong to say that the Rs 6,400 crore project is cautiously moving after being put on track by the government.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) managing director, V Madhu says: “We have started work on the project and it’s being carried out briskly. As far as land acquisition is concerned, we are in possession of two-thirds of the land and by year-end we should be able to take over completely. The designs are ready and we have issued letters to the contractors to start work”.
Reach One will be commissioned by March 2010 and by March 2011, all the reaches will be commissioned, adds Madhu.
Going by the BMRCL proposal, the city may soon see a new skyline. A report, presented to the government by the team which visited several countries to study the impact of mass transport, suggests an increase in the FAR rules. Currently, the peak hour peak direction trip (PHPDT) recorded a maximum of 23,000 commuters. When the Metro Rail is in operation, this will increase to 70,000. Given such a figure, the city can go for skyscrapers as in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok. The report states that commercial roads coming in the corridors can be exploited for new businesses. If the government heeds the suggestions, the city could soon have skyscrapers that will dwarf the Public Utility Building.
As regards the 33 metro stations, the authority is planning shopping malls, banks and ATMs, and other utilities and commercial activities where land is available.
People’s interest in the Rs 6400-crore project can be gauged by the 30,000-plus hits on the BMRCL web-site since June 2006. It envisages mass transport for over one million commuters. The authorities are wor-king out new alignments to the Metro network. With three new alignments (Trinity Circle to Silk Board Jun-ction, K R Puram to Electronic City and Yelahanka to Majestic), the reach of Metro Rail is increasing. RITES consultants are preparing the project report for three new alignments. According to sources, more new alignments may come into the project. The BMRCL has planned to extend the corridors, and totally around 6 kms will be extended. In Bya-ppa-nahalli, the corridor extends to the Outer Ring Road by 1 km. In the R V Road alignment, the corridor will be extended till Banashankari. In Peenya, the service will be extended to Hesaraghatta.


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