Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Metro for Ludhiana?

Oh! Come on. Re-consider

Krishdeep Khosla

The idea of development in Punjab seems to be evolving into necessarity a grand project. Much like the view about big dams in India, the politicians in Punjab think that the idea of capacity enhancement for existing facilities or income enhancement schemes for the very poor and poor ar not indicators of development but talk of metro, malls and airports is.
In this vein, we have been hearing for some time the ideas about a metro for a city like Ludhiana. So much so, that the Punjab Government has even signed an MoU for developing metro rail project in Ludhiana.
The venture is being counched as some sort of a landmark in Punjab's history and we are supposed to lap up the talk that it will herald us into an age of post-modern technology. As environmental activist Navdip Asija is fond of quipping, it is debatable whether it is going to be post-modern or post mortem technology.
The metro venture will onvolve huge environmental cost, and the land will come from either extremely densely populated urban areas or fertile agricultural lands. In either case, vulnerable sections of the population will be forced to be physical pushed to farther margins in our race towards development.
At a time when it goes without much gainsaying that Punjab's financial condition is not in great shape, one wonders about who will bear this burden of huge investment to the tune of Rs 3000 crore. On top of that, this figure is again an unrealistic estimation; it does not include the cost of rolling stock. "Large projects like the Metro, the viability gap funding tends to make huge demands on the state exchequer. After this decision the financial burden born by Punjab during militancy era would seem much smaller in comparison to this upcoming mounting debt burden on the State going to be imposed by our political leaders," Asija said.
Asija has pointed out that instead of building a rail based mass rapid transit system; bus rapid transit system can be a good option for a city like Ludhiana, Mohali, Amritsar. Without changing much of existing road infrastructure same can be accommodated and adopted. Bus based MRTS can cater 80% of the total ridership in comparison to the metro, whilst construction cost of  1km elevated metro line is almost 35 times higher than constructing a at grade dedicated bus lane. Other advantages are, bus provides you node to node better connectivity through open and closed system, whilst Metro Involved longer length of walking trips followed by vertical up and down movement to reach metro station. A City is just not a physical structure; it is a social str ucture. We need to address the role of each element and development shall be made by keeping into mind minimal impact on existing social and physical structure. Construction of metro will disturb the skyline of the city and the best example is Chaura Bazar flyover, which has almost spoiled the entire city structure of Ludhiana without changing much improvement in city's congestion situation. Another point of debate can be, metro is required to cater the future demand; but future demand can be very well addressed by developing a better master plan for the city, where people needs to travel lesser distance from workplace to home. Better planning can also results reduced congestion and pollution due to vehicles.
In Delhi alone, modal share in total motorized trips of through existing bus system is 60%. Punjab can learn the lesson from existing studies and areas where Metro has been implemented. Per kilometer Cost of Delhi Metro's Phase-I for the construction of three lines of 65 km in total length is 163 Crore. 10, 571crore, enough money to by 10 full-bodied Boeing 747s. At present metro ridership is near about 7.5 lakh passenger per day, which is not feeding the 1% of total Delhi's population. As per Delhi Metro Corporation estimations, number of originating passengers per day in the year 2011 for Phase I and Phase II corridors would be 26.17 lakhs. A total investment of 20847.92 crore on 213.7 km long rail network just to benefit 2% of the population is not a good idea. In terms of road accidents fatalities on Delhi's Road are increased by 8.6% between 2001 to 2005 period. Passengers using the Metro make up just about a fifth of the numbers projected initially. There is also the sobering experience of the 16 km Kolkata Metro, where ridership is limited to 10 per cent of capacity.
Delhi Metro data reveals that metro is a viable option where people travel corridor in one direction exceeds intra city demand 20,000 persons per hour. "I am sure, just to make metro viable, the Government won't let Ludhiana to reach at this level through wrong policies and planning. Population density of Ludhiana per Sq.kms is 804 persons in comparison to Delhi's population density 9,296 person per square kilometer. With the population density 11 times higher than of Ludhiana, if Delhi metro is not able to generate half of its estimated ridership, then I have doubt that how this metro project will be feasible in the case of circular city Ludhiana which is well connected with linear and radial roads," Asija posits.

No comments:

Post a Comment