After years in cold storage, the mass rapid transport system (MRTS) plans have been revived with the Chandigarh administration deciding to go in for a fresh study on the comprehensive mobility plan for the city.
With a population of over 12 lakh and 15 lakh registered vehicles, Chandigarh has the highest density of vehicles per household in the country, leading to traffic congestion and snarls. In addition to these, over two lakh vehicles on interstate routes cross the city daily.
Since the metro rail plans were shelved, the administration has not been able to opt for any other alternative, such as monorail, skybus or metrolite.
The decision to have a fresh study on the MRTS was taken after UT officials held a meeting with representatives of the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) here on Monday. The RITES made presentation on its 2009 report.
“The RITES had prepared a report on the city’s mobility needs in 2009. But this has been found outdated now. The city’s needs have changed dramatically in the last more than a decade. Also, the guidelines set by the housing and urban affairs ministry for the MRTS project have changed, which necessitates a fresh look at the problem. Therefore, the administration will go in for a new study,” said a senior UT official privy to the development.
The RITES had proposed that Metro would cover a distance of 52.4 km, of which 40.4 km will be in Chandigarh and the rest in Mohali. The alignments were proposed both above ground as well as underground. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had prepared the detailed project report of the first phase of the project.
Confirming the development, UT adviser Dharam Pal said: “The 2009 report was prepared on the basis of old guidelines and old data, which are outdated now. So, whole thing has to be planned and prepared as per the latest guidelines if we have to seek funding from the Union government. We have decided for a comprehensive fresh study.”
Pal has directed the UT officials to start the process for the framing of a new study, preferably by the RITES as it has already conducted a study in the city.
“It will take another month or so before we engage an agency for the study. We have to decide as to whether it would be through nomination or we have to float tenders. I have asked the officials to work on these issues,” said Pal.
Study will decide the option
The metro rail proposal was dropped after opposition from MP Kirron Kher, architects and conservationists. Later, in 2017, the central government had declared Metro was not viable for the city.
The monorail proposal is also hanging fire. Recently, another alternative, skybus, was also found to be not viable. The latest option was metrolite. Last year, the administration had sought to be part of the central government’s pilot projects to be developed across the country.
“The MRTS option will be decided on the basis of the needs and traffic load of the city. The agency will have to study the peak hour traffic and congested routes. The cost aspects will also need to be studied before the option can be decided,” said Pal.
Stating that the administration was ready to go alone on the project if necessary, the UT adviser said: “At this point in time, we have not taken on board the neighbouring governments. However, the administration will seek their cooperation by seeking a meeting of chief secretaries of the neighbouring states under the aegis of the UT administrator.”