pratibha-patil-1The bhoomipujan – the symbolic beginning of construction – of the 32-km Metro-II line from Charkop to Mankhurd via Bandra took place at the MMRDA grounds in the Bandra Kurla Complex on Tuesday morning. President Pratibha Patil was the chief guest. The bhoomipoojan and foundation stone laying ceremony of the second metro line was held at the MMRDA grounds, done by president Pratibha Patil. The second metro rail will connect Charkop in the western suburbs to Mankhurd in the central suburbs and Navi Mumbai, while the first one will connect Versova, Andheri and Ghatkopar. It will be an elevated metro rail track between Charkop and Mankhurd via Bandra. The route is around 32 km via 27 stations. While the MMRDA pegs the cost to Rs 8,500 cr, the contracting company Reliance Infrastructure says it will cost around Rs 11,000 cr. Fares will begin at Rs 8 for the first 3km, and will go up to Rs 24 for more than 30 km. Also present were governor S C Jamir, chief minister Ashok Chavan, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Reliance Infrastructure chairman Anil Ambani, among other state heads, dignitaries and residents from the western suburbs. Also present the Union minister for urban development Jaipal Reddy announced during the event that the Centre would provide funds amounting to Rs 5,000 crore, by way of a 50% equity stake in the third phase of the city’s Metro line, the cost of which has been pegged at over Rs 10,000 crore. State government officials, however, are not celebrating yet. For one, the Centre has yet to credit the promised Rs 471 crore for the first Metro line between Versova and Ghatkopar via Andheri, even though 45% of the work has been completed, say officials. This amount was promised to the city more than a year ago. Though the residents’ longstanding demand that the Metro-II stretch between Andheri and Bandra be constructed underground to avoid pollution and public inconvenience was highlighted by parliamentarian Gurudas Kamat, the issue has yet to be tackled by Reddy and Chavan. With cameraperson Ranjit Gupta, Dhiraj Mishra for NMTV News.

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