An Exclusive Interview with Shri R. A. Rajeev, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA

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Context: The MMRDA has been expeditiously undertaking the execution of metro lines work in Mumbai and adjoining areas. In this regard, We reached out to the MMRDA Team for an exclusive insight into progress of all ongoing works on the metro lines besides other details on their major activities and the Impact of Covid-19 on the metro projects.

Interview Insights:

Please tell us more about your professional journey so far and your experience leading the MMRDA today along with multiple project initiatives in Mumbai?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: I belong to 1987 batch of Indian Administrative Service, Maharashtra cadre. In my thirty-three years’ career, I have mainly worked for eleven years in urban development, four years in environment and four years in finance in addition to other sectors at State as well as Central government levels. Before joining my present assignment, I was working as Principal Secretary in Finance department of Government of Maharashtra dealing with State Budget and expenditure management.

I have also worked as Joint Secretary (Finance), Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. However, it is my long tenures in urban development sector as Joint Municipal Commissioner and Additional Municipal Commissioner in Mumbai and Municipal Commissioner of Thane City, which has shaped my career. Alongside this, my experience in finance and Environment helps me in handling urban issues with more effectiveness and efficiency.

“Presently as head of MMRDA, I am handling mega infrastructural projects, which include 340 kms of Metro and the longest sea bridge MTHL in Mumbai metropolitan region, costing USD 21.42 billion.”

My responsibilities include mobilising financial resources through bilateral and multilateral funding agencies, tender management and timely implementation of these projects. I have been able to raise financial resources of USD 4285 million from agencies like ADB, JICA, KFW, AIIB and NDB. Further negotiations are also on with ADB, NDB, AIIB and AFD.

In MMRDA, I have also created a new organisation, namely Maha Mumbai Metro Operation Corporation Limited, for operation and maintenance of the Metro services, which are being constructed now.

My strength lies in public policy analysis and in designing and executing infrastructure projects.

 


 

As we know, MMRDA is bringing significant development in the public transportation system by building 14 difference metro line projects in Mumbai and MMR. What is the current status of all ongoing works on the metro lines 2, 4, and 7? Can you please inform us about the overall progress of works on all metro lines?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: Current status of ongoing works on the metro lines till 07.12.2020 are as follows:

 


 

As we know Covid-19 pandemic has hit all infrastructure projects across the country, please tell us about the challenges MMRDA staff and workers are facing at sites of all Metro lines during these days? What are the safety precautions they are following at the sites?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: Challenges faced because of Covid-19 (Apr’20 to Aug’20):

  • Migration of labours
  • Shortage of Skilled local manpower
  • Overall productivity of works at Site had reduced due to presence of less Labours with Social Distancing & other Guidelines
  • Materials Procurements / imports affected / delayed
  • Consultants held abroad – Global Pandemic / Lockdown / flights
  • Impact on production and supply of critical material due to lockdown
  • R&R & Land acquisition work affected Would like to specifically mention that as of now there is full labour strength across all metro projects and normal level of productivity has been achieved. The work is in full swing across all project sites.

Would like to specifically mention that as of now there is full labour strength across all metro projects and normal level of productivity has been achieved. The work is in full swing across all project sites.

The Safety precautions that are followed at site –

Apart from regular construction safety norms, the following are the additional precautions on account of Covid-19:

  • Aarogya Setu App – All Engineers and workmen are told and made to download Aarogya Setu App.
  • Infrared Thermometer – All employees and workmen of contractor & subcontractors are undergoing mandatory
    thermometer check.
  • Face Mask – All employees and workmen are wearing facemask.
  • Hand Washing & Sanitizer – All employees/ workmen are washing hands or applying sanitizers before entering office or project site.
  • Sanitization – All offices and project sites sanitized on regular basis.
  • Social Distancing – Social distancing is being maintained in offices and project sites.
  • All vehicles/ materials entering worksite are disinfected by spray.
  • All common areas are disinfected daily as per MHA guidelines.
  • Doctors are present for periodic check of workers for any possible symptoms.
  • All construction material arriving at site left idle for 1 day before use to ensure safe usage.
  • Awareness Measures & Daily Briefing.

 


 

Recently BEML bagged another contract for additional 12 Metro trainsets for Line 2B & 7? Please share when will the delivery of metro rakes for Metro Line 2 & 7 begin and what is the expected timelines for all the Metro trainsets?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: BEML is going to supply metro rakes for Line 2A, 2B & 7. Delivery of first prototype train set for Metro Line 2A & Line 7 is expected by December 2020. Subsequently they are going to delivery sets progressively keeping in mind the overall
commissioning. We have planned to start Trail Run from Jan’21 for Line 2A & Line 7.

 


 

Many metro organisations in the country are planning to introduce a Common Mobility Card for all modes of public transport. Please brief us more about your plans for Integrated Ticketing System (ITS) and MultiModal Integration of Metro lines with other modes of public transport across Mumbai?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: Integrated Ticketing System Project in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR):

MMRDA has embarked on an ambitious journey to develop an Integrated Ticketing System, aimed at enabling a “seamless”
commute through various means of public transport in MMR. The plan is to include Metro lines, monorail, suburban railways, bus operators and any other public transport operators.

“It is imperative to ensure seamless travel both in the form of physical integration and ticketing integration so as to increase the efficiency of the public transport system. MMRDA wishes to provide seamless travel to commuters in MMR in terms of Ticketing Integration, thereby enhancing the use of the public transport.

The key benefits of the ITS system is as follows:

  • Facilitate the combination of modes – Multimodal Integration
  • Use in Transit and Non-Transit Environment
  • Seamless Transfer of commuters
  • Promote greater use of public transport
  • Reduction in administrative costs for operators
  • Accurate, accessible and reliable information
  • Reduce Fraud and revenue leakage

System Overview:

The cards issued under ITS will be open loop cards, in alignment with NCMC standards issued by MoHUA. Some features of the system are given below:

  • Basic system
  • Prepaid Value is stored on the card
  • Transactions happen at the front-end devices
  • Fare logic and business rules are stored in the front-end devices
  • For commuter with balance
  • As the card is tapped, the front-end device –
  • Checks whether card is blacklisted (e.g reported lost or stolen)
  • Calculates the fare to be deducted
  • Checks if there is sufficient balance in the card deducts the fare and lets person pass
  • For commuter without balance: Will alert commuter to not travel. Gate will not open. No low-balance risk
  • Top-ups and Refunds (for correcting errors, etc.): Card Top-up and refund will require visiting a ticket window, or a top-up device (even if money is transferred electronically)
  • Security Deposit: Security deposit is not required, though card issuance fee is being charged in other cities
  • Interoperability: Interoperability limited to NCMC cards. ITS Card can be used with any merchant that accepts RuPay.
  • KYC: KYC needs to be done by the bank, as required for NCMC Open Loop cards
  • Selection of a Banking partner for Transaction Acquiring, Card Issuing and AFC integration services for Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region
  • Selection of a Mobile App Technology Partner To Develop and Operate The Common Mobility App for Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region

Scope of work for Banking Partner for Transaction Acquiring, Card Issuing and AFC integration services for Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region:

  • Design, Printing, Supply, Distribution and Marketing of MMR and FI CO branded NCMC Card.
  • Design, Develop and Maintain acquiring and issuance services
  • Deliver personalisation services for the purpose of personalisation of card issuance through merchant outlets or logistics channel, Card Issuance at MMR/ merchant outlets and Personalization Management.
  • Design, Develop and maintain Top-Up channels and e-Payment services.
  • Supply, Deliver and maintenance of Central Clearance house management
  • Integration with existing AFCS and devices used for AFCS services in metro lines no 2A & 7
  • Deliver and maintain Central Smart Card Host Management services for Acquiring and Issuance.
  • Testing of Fl System including AFCS integration, settlement and card host services.
  • Documentation and customer KYC management, Support Management, Exit Management
  • MIS Reporting, Training, SLA Monitoring

Scope of work for Mobile App Technology Partner to Develop and Operate The Common Mobility App for
Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region:

  • Design, develop and configure common mobility application platform. Also, integration with MMRDA’s ITS banking partner as well as MMR AFC platform for metro line 2A and line 7.
  • Provide Operation and Maintenance support
  • Developing integration protocols with PTOs/PTAs
  • Host the common mobility app platform at a Data Centre manage business continuity by setting up a Disaster Recovery Site. The Cloud Service Provider for this project shall be preferably from empanelled agencies by GoM.
  • Develop and implement interfaces to integrate with the third party Banking/Financial Partners
  • Provide transaction clearing, reconciliation of accounts and assistance in money settlement functions for all PTOs/ PTAs whose ticketing is done through this platform.
  • Integration with MMRDAs ITS Banking partner payment gateway infrastructure
  • Provide support management including help desk, user review and feedback management.

Mobility App functionality overview:

  • Displaying latest map of participating PTOs
  • Calculate route from any source to destination along with cost of journey
  • Booking ticket for the selected journey
  • Recharge available for online transactions
  • Display the available transit products including participating operators of first and last mile journey
  • Rewards to commuters

Timelines:

  • Selection of a Banking partner for Transaction Acquiring, Card Issuing and AFC integration services for Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region is underway. We have received good response for this tender and bid evaluation is under way and we will be finalising banking partner in this month (Dec’20) only.
  •  Selection of a Mobile App Technology Partner To Develop and Operate The Common Mobility App for Integrated Ticketing System in Mumbai Metropolitan Region – The tendering is under process and the bids are expected to be received by 10-Dec-2020.

Multi Modal Integration (MMI):

MMRDA has undertaken “Planning and Design of Multi Modal Integration (MMI) plans” at Mumbai Metro stations focussing on accessibility, safety and mobility (last mile connectivity) to Metro stations.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • Improve overall access to Metro Station and its surrounding areas;
  • To provide necessary infrastructure for walking, cycling and public transport;
  • To bridge the first and last mile connectivity in most efficient and economic manner.
  • To improve urban realm through urban place making, making walking and cycling a pleasurable user experience.
  • Seamless integration with other Public Transit Modes through FoBs and Improved passenger information system;
  • Improve traffic flow under Metro Station through Intersection/junction design improvements, provisioning of parking bays etc.;
  • Improve aesthetics in the station area using urban design elements

MMI Project Components:

In this indicative plan, the station influence area will be redesigned for efficient & safe dispersal of traffic and commuters. This includes restructuring/ reconfiguration of Right of Way (ROW) i.e. carriage ways and footpaths, foot over bridges (FOBs), shifting/ re-routing of ground and underground utilities, street lights, shifting of Bus stops, providing pickup-drop off bays for Buses/IPT’s/private vehicles, dedicated metro feeder through e-vehicles, way finding maps, signages, traffic signals/ signal cycles, CCTV surveillance, beautification, street furniture and Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) infrastructure. This infrastructure upgradation is proposed to be carried out in 500m
radius of each metro station area which is average walking distance for last mile connectivity to Mass Transit Stations.

Current Status:

MMRDA has prepared MMI concept plans through consultants in consultation with different stakeholders like MCGM, BEST & Traffic Police for 30 stations of Metro Line 2A & 7.

The contract for Project Management Consultancy and Contractor for implementation of works for 0-250m Radius (from the center of the station) is awarded. The estimated project implementation cost is about Rs. 356.86 cr. The same is planned to be completed at the time of Metro 2A & 7 commissioning.

 


 

Currently, work on Metro Rail is going on in 27 cities across the country. How do you view the progress of Metro Rail projects in India today and what are the opportunities for the Indian companies in the same?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: Metro Rail projects are need of the hour. The amount of development and its contribution to infrastructure is humongous. Funding for metro infrastructure project is still a huge challenge. Funds for Infrastructure development from the overseas funding agency is one of the option to catchup with economic growth & such massive infrastructure projects will restore employment generation in the long run.

“Metro Rail Network stretching over 1500 Kms, including RRTS is proposed to be laid over in next 05 Years across various cities. This will require substantial expenditure from Central & different state government equity apart from the funding by other agencies. This has a direct benefit to the construction companies of India & this can be seen in the quarterly results of the major construction companies & their order Book. It also has an indirect benefit for the Indian Equipment manufacturing & associated secondary manufacturers and also employment generation.”

 


 

Any additional insights you would like to share with our readers?

Shri R. A. Rajeev: While there are substantial Metro Rail projects under various stages across India, one thing that should be ensured is “Last Mile Connectivity”. This will not only ensure higher ridership, but also enable in making metro sustainable. Moreover there are gaps being observed between expected ridership and actual ridership in few cities which raises questions about the sustainability of Metro projects. It requires to do due diligence before any new Metro project is taken up.

 


This Interview is a part of our December 2020 Magazine: Subscribe to our Magazine Today!

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