Public transport upgrade needed to maintain the capital city’s growth with other civic amenities
Good public transport is the fulcrum of a modern city and Hyderabad is no exception. Apart from buses, MMTS Phase I connecting Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Falaknuma and Lingampally of 42 km more than two decades ago and the recent Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) Phase-I connecting L.B.Nagar to Miyapur, JBS to MGBS and Nagole to Raidurg help citizens move in a faster and eco-friendly manner. However, the city seems to have reached a cul de sac on the next phase of public transport.
If the city’s growth rate is to be maintained along with other civic amenities of roads, stormwater drains, sewage, drinking water, etc., plans and execution for the public transport for the next few decades is imperative. Also, because “Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and other cities have already started work on next phase of metro or suburban train works,” point out senior officials, seeking anonymity.
MMTS Phase-II of 85 km, a joint venture project between Railways and the State government can be completed with better coordination between them. Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy mentioned this project in the campaign blaming the Telangana government for the delays.
It is true the government owes close to ₹500 crore as part of the earlier pact to fund two-thirds of the total cost that escalated to ₹1,000 crore from ₹813 crore, but surely the Union Minister realises the government is under a funds pump so a via-media solution could be thrashed out.
The math goes like this: the Railways spent ₹730 crore when its share is ₹240 crore and ₹70 crore demand raised to buy new trains was rejected while the government gave just ₹129 crore. But, then Phase-I trains were launched in 2003. “Five lakh people can travel daily between suburbs once Phase-II is ready and railways infrastructure gets improved in the process,” they affirm.
The Local Military Authority also needs to be nudged to allow work on 4 km between Ammuguda and Sanatnagar on the Sanatnagar-Moula Ali route, that’s hanging fire for five years now. MMTS line extension till Yadadri from Ghatkesar as requested by the government will only help pilgrims to reach the Sri Lakshi Narasimha Swamy temple, besides boosting connectivity to townships en route.
It has been eight years since the first metro pier construction began and before the pandemic struck, five lakh passengers were travelling by Hyderabad metro rail. It took years of planning to build this ₹20,000 crore biggest public-private partnership project.
It has also been three years since metro rail phase-II construction of 60 km connecting Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) of 31 km from Gachibowli, Nagole to L.B. Nagar of 5 km and BHEL-R.C. Puram to Lakidikapul of 21 km, was announced.
Detailed project reports prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation are with the government but there has been no headway. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had again committed himself to the Airport Link expected to cost up to ₹9,000 crore at ₹300 crore a km. It could translate into slim chance for MGBS to Falaknuma link (incidentally closer to RGIA) and other routes.
Plan for the 20-km, ₹2,400 crore Elevated Bus Rapid Transit System linking Kukatpally Housing Board with Financial District in Gachibowli under public-private partnership is also awaiting final nod.
“Earmarking land parcels, innovative financial planning and tapping infrastructure investors can be done if governments, be it Central or State, give impetus to funding for public transport systems in cities,” say senior officials.