Mumbai: Two long-awaited metro lines, Metro 2A and Metro 7, were inaugurated in Mumbai Saturday on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, the Marathi new year. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ministers threw open the lines to the public to much fanfare — and much acrimony from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
With the work having been announced during the former BJP-Shiv Sena government, the partial opening — some remaining stretches are to be opened later this year — triggered a war of words between the MVA and the BJP. The latter claimed that the Sena was taking credit for the work done under the Devendra Fadnavis administration, and the party boycotted the inauguration as Fadnavis wasn’t invited.
The BJP put up posters in the city thanking Fadnavis, and the Maharashtra unit tweeted a video saying that due to “the inefficiency and corruption of Sena, metro projects got delayed. Devendra Fadnavis (during 2014-2019) announced these projects to make life easier for Mumbaikars”.
It further said that the MVA, the ruling alliance led by the Sena, had a simple policy, which was to oppose metro lines while they were being planned and built when Fadnavis was in power, and then to take credit by inaugurating them when they are completed.
Reacting to these allegations, CM Thackeray said that Mumbaikars had seen how the BJP government worked, and how they had cut down trees in the urban forest of Aarey in the dead of night in October 2019 to make room for a car shed as part of the metro project. The Shiv Sena had objected to this move on environmental grounds.
“Now after Corona, a new virus has come in. First they don’t work, and later they come ahead to take the credit, or say that others resorted to corruption. There is no solution for this,” said Thackeray.
“They should see that the work they started, we have taken it forward. We never stopped any work that they started. But if the credit has to be given, I would like to give it to Mumbaikars and their efforts that are bearing fruit now,” he added.
Deputy CM Ajit Pawar also reacted to the BJP’s criticism. “No project gets completed easily. Immense efforts go into the completion of a project. And only when that is done are projects completed. We are working on many such infrastructural projects under the leadership of CM Uddhav Thackeray.”
In 2014, one metro line — Versova to Ghatkopar — was completed and opened to the public by the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government. After the change of government in the state that year, Fadnavis as CM announced more lines during his tenure from 2014 to 2019.
The two lines inaugurated Saturday were commissioned in 2015, with a bhoomi poojan conducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two lines together are about 35 km long — Line 2A is 18.6 km and Line 7 is 16.5 km. The contract was awarded in 2016, and the original plan was to complete these lines by 2019. However, the work was held up due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, the two lines, running along Link Road and the Western Express Highway, in the northwestern part of the metropolis, were partially opened (about 20 km). The entire line is expected to be opened for the public in the last quarter of this year, between October and December.
“The metro work, which was started by Devendra Fadnavis, should have been completed a year ago. But because of the government’s inefficiency, the lines were delayed by a year, and now they are inaugurating half-complete lines,” said BJP MLA Ram Kadam.
However, Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said that the BJP had resorted to a poster war over the inauguration of the metro lines, but they were forgetting that the first metro line in Mumbai started when Prithviraj Chavan was the CM (2010-2014) and BJP took it forward. The Congress laid the foundations and the BJP cut ribbons, he said.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
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