Visakhapatnam, one of the jewels of India's east coast, is on the cusp of a transformation that promises to turn it into a mega metropolis. With a slew of pending projects, including the long-anticipated metro rail, the city's skyline and connectivity are set to change dramatically. In this news article, we dive into the details of this ambitious project and the broader vision for Visakhapatnam's development.
The recent decision by NITI Aayog to include Visakhapatnam in the list of four cities earmarked for development as mega metropolises has breathed new life into long-pending projects, especially the metro rail. This move reflects a larger vision to position Visakhapatnam as a key hub in India's urban landscape.
Adding to this vision is the Andhra Pradesh Government's plan to make Visakhapatnam the administrative center starting from the Dashera festival. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has indicated a readiness to relocate to the city, underlining the government's commitment to its transformation.
Minister for Industries and Commerce Gudivada Amarnath, speaking after a recent review meeting, expressed optimism about the future of Visakhapatnam's development. He emphasized that several projects, including the metro rail, are in the pipeline and will be fast-tracked to ensure timely completion.
During the same meeting, Chief Secretary KS Jawahar Reddy directed the Visakhapatnam Metro Rail Corporation to expedite the technical evaluation of the metro rail project, aiming to complete it by the New Year.
The Visakhapatnam metro rail project has been in the conceptual stage for nearly a decade. However, it's worth noting that significant progress has been made. Last year, a revised Detailed Project Report (DPR) estimated the project cost at Rs 14,309 crore, a substantial increase from the initial estimate of Rs 8,300 crore proposed during the previous regime. This updated DPR, though awaiting approval from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, charts a clear path for funding.
Under the proposed funding arrangement, the Government of India is expected to provide 20 percent of the Viability Gap Funding, with the state contributing an additional 20 percent. The remaining investment is slated to come from Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investors. This collaborative approach ensures a more sustainable financial model for the project.
The heart of the project is a comprehensive metro network spanning over 76.9 kilometers. It will connect key points in the city, from Kurmannapalem Junction near Visakhapatnam Steel Plant to Bhogapuram International Airport, which is itself undergoing substantial development by the GMR Group, with an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore.
The metro network is designed around four primary corridors, each serving as a vital artery for the city's transportation:
1. Kurmannapalem to Kommadi: This corridor is set to be the lifeline, with a stretch of 64.09 kilometers connecting Bhogapuram via Gajuwaka and Anandapuram. Further extensions will link Kommadi Junction, facilitating seamless connectivity to and from the airport.
2. Thatichetlapalem to Park Hotel: Covering a distance of 6.5 kilometers, this corridor will be crucial for commuters, passing through key areas such as Railway New Colony, Railway Station, Vivekananda statue junction, RTC Complex, Old Jail Road, Sampath Vinayaka temple road, and Andhra University Out Gate.
3. Gurudwara to Old Head Post Office (OHPO): This 5.5-kilometer corridor promises improved accessibility, with stops at Diamond Park, the City Police Commissioner’s Office, LIC, Dabagardens, and the Poorna Market backside road.
The choice of a light metro system and an elevated route for these corridors is aimed at optimizing costs and minimizing disruptions. Notably, apart from some land acquisition challenges at the OHPO intersection, the project is on a relatively smooth path.
During the review meeting, discussions extended beyond the metro project. Plans were unveiled for a beach corridor, a natural history museum, a signature tower, a convention center at Kapuluppada, an aqua sports complex at Mangamaripeta, a science city atop Kailasagiri hilltop park, and a crescent-type ring road. These initiatives demonstrate a comprehensive approach to enhancing the city's livability and appeal.
Furthermore, there's a proposal to revamp Kalavani Auditorium, inspired by the renowned Ravindra Bharat in Hyderabad, which would enrich the city's cultural offerings.
As with any transformative endeavor, the Visakhapatnam metro rail project has faced its share of delays and challenges. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Puri, confirmed in March that they were yet to receive the DPR in alignment with the Revised Metro Rail Policy of 2017. Critics have questioned the government's intentions, attributing the project's revival to the forthcoming elections.
However, despite these hurdles, the project represents a significant collaboration between the Central and State governments, with IL&FS Engineering and Construction Limited playing a pivotal role. UJM Rao, Managing Director of the Andhra Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (APMRC), maintains an optimistic outlook, asserting that work will soon commence.
With a maximum frequency of eight minutes between two trains in each corridor and initial plans for two coaches, expandable based on demand, the metro network promises to redefine Visakhapatnam's public transportation.
The Visakhapatnam metro rail project is not just a transportation initiative; it's a testament to the city's ambitions. By embracing a comprehensive approach to urban development, the project aims to enhance the lives of its residents, boost connectivity, and foster economic growth. With all eyes on Visakhapatnam's future, the journey towards becoming a mega metropolis is well underway.