Nashik (Neo) Metro faces uncertain future

The Metro and city bus services, two projects approved by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, face an uncertain future with the state government warning the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) of the “grave financial consequences” it might face due to implementation of the twin ventures.

Following the request of urban development minister Eknath Shinde, Nashik guardian minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday, 24th January 2020, held a meeting in Mumbai with city mayor Satish Kulkarni, Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) standing committee chairman Uddhav Nimse and municipal commissioner Radhakrishna Game.

“I am not against these projects. But the two projects will have serious financial implications for the NMC. The state government cannot take the responsibility if the two projects suffer financial losses. The state government has to spend huge amounts on the scheme to wave the farmers’ loan and Nagpur-Mumbai expressway project,” Bhujbal said.

Following Fadnavis’s instructions, the NMC had decided to take over the city bus services from the ailing MSRTC and operate 400 buses through private operators in phases. In the first phase, 200 buses were to be deployed.

Similarly, the Nashik Metro project was announced by the former CM and MahaMetro finalized its DPR at over Rs 2,000 crore. The erstwhile Fadnavis government had approved the DPR and sent it to the Centre for approval. The Union and state governments and NMC were the stakeholders of the project.

“On the Nashik Metro project, I told the NMC functionaries that a review of it should be done later to ascertain whether the mass transit system is at all needed for the city. My feedback is that the similar projects in Nagpur and Mumbai are not that popular. Moreover, roads have to be dug up. This will cause much problems for the road users,” said Bhujbal.

On the city bus project, the district guardian minister said the presentation the NMC functionaries gave about the project revealed that the civic body would have to bear a loss of about Rs 13,000 a day for operating one bus. “The civic body has to create infrastructure such as bus depots and stands. This will mean an expenditure of around Rs 80 crore. I have told them that unless they increase their revenue generation, it will be difficult for the NMC to sustain the bus project and also spend on sectors such as roads, water and hospitals,” Bhujbal said.

He said it would be virtually impossible for the government to financially support NMC on the bus project since the state has to spend on the farmers’ loan waiver, Samruddhi road project and implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission.

Nimse said, “We have told Bhujbal that the NMC has issued work orders for rolling out the 400 buses to the contractors. If the project is withdrawn, NMC has to pay the contractors 80% of the project cost for violation of the contract. If the state government is willing to provide this huge amount, NMC can roll back the city bus service.

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