Why is such a lot of money being spent on skywalks that are inconvenient, a Metro that cannot accommodate large numbers, a monorail and a sea link for a privileged few?
When I read a newspaper report earlier this week that there is insufficient space to accommodate escalators at the skywalks which are coming up across Mumbai, I just could not help thinking that the blokes at MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority) are very capable of messing around with matters of public importance without application of mind from the outset. The lucre of Rs600 crore (allocated for the skywalk projects) was too big not to be attracted to, or delay, lest they were halted in their tracks. The contract costs have since escalated to Rs735 crore.
The design of the skywalks does not support the aim of making the journey for pedestrians easier and safer. Let alone the convenience of the average pedestrian, the design also grossly violates the accessibility aspect with regard to the Disability Act 1995. The usage of skywalks that have already been commissioned is dismally poor. And all this is coming up after Rs385 crore has been spent and numerous trees have been chopped down. Is this not a scandal of sorts?
After the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) is completed, the carrying capacity of the railway system will increase to 1,80,000 pph (passengers per hour) from the current 1,50,000 pph. The load on the railway system is around 3,60,000 pph. Thus, there will be a shortfall of 1,80,000 pph even after the MUTP has been completed. We know that the capacity of the Metro will be about 72,000 pph after it has been fully commissioned. So, the Metro would not be able to meet the needs of Mumbai's public transport requirements. Even after knowing this, MMRDA is pursuing with the Metro Rail. Is not the lucre of the over Rs60,000 crore Metro Rail Project more attractive than the Rs3,000 crore cost of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS)? Is this decision also not bordering on a scandal of sorts?
The monorail project has gone ahead, again, without any analysis in terms of both the need and utility compared with other modes of public transport like BRTS and Skybus. Does this also not border a scandal of sorts?
We are also seeing that due to non-availability of funds, all kinds of manipulations are being carried out to get the projects moving. MMRDA is planning to start work on all the remaining eight lines together, with the objective of completing them by 2014! Are not the guys at MMRDA being too ambitious, perhaps even greedy, to think of doing all of it simultaneously, thereby subjecting the whole population to great distress over a long period?
Then there is the 5 lakh rental housing scheme-most unimaginatively conceived, at faraway locations, a high cost of transport and long duration of unsafe travel. Is this not another scandal of sorts?
About Rs1,600 crore was spent on the Bandra-Worli Sea link for about 35,000 users to travel swiftly, while 60,00,000 people travel on suburban trains in super-crush load during the peak periods. Now it is envisaged to extend the sea link to Nariman Point, without any consideration of the high cost and low utilisation. But spend just about Rs3,000 crore on a 200km network for BRTS instead of, or along with the high-end ticket projects, and we could save 4,000 lives that are lost in rail accidents every year. Is this also not a scandal of sorts?
Even as Tata Motors is offering the small car for open sales in a few more states, many customers from the initial one lakh group are still waiting to receive their vehicles
Tata Motors Ltd, India's largest vehicle manufacturer by revenue, is yet to complete the delivery of its small car, Nano, to a privileged batch of the first one lakh select customers and another 55,000 who have retained the bookings they made 16 months ago. This, despite the small car being also made at a second plant at Sanand in Gujarat, since June.
"Tata Motors has delivered 70,817 cars, as at the end of October 2010," a company official said. "The total production since April 2009 till the end of October 2010 is 71,700. Since deliveries started in July 2009, we began reporting monthly production numbers to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), along with the monthly sales data. If you take the production from July 2009 till the end of October 2010, it is 69,415 cars."
However, the figures don't tally with the figures provided by SIAM. According to a SIAM report, between April 2009 and October 2010, Tata Motors produced 50,269 units of Tata Nano and sold (delivered, in fact) 50,985 units during the period.
The company said in a statement: "Tata Motors' new 2,50,000 cars per year plant at Sanand (Gujarat) is fully operational. Production at the plant is being speedily ramped up, for instant delivery."
In July, Moneylife had reported that production constraints at Sanand and Pantnagar plants had forced Tata Motors to delay delivery as well as open sales of Tata Nano by a few months. (Read more http://www.moneylife.in/article/8/7084.html)
The Sanand plant, which started operations in June 2010, has a capacity to produce 2.5 lakh Nanos a year. But, till date, Tata Motors has not been able to produce more that 5,000 Nanos a month, from both the plants. The company official declined to provide details of production at each of the plants.
According to a report by the Press Trust of India, vendors of Tata Nano have been told to scale up the supply of components by three times by March 2011, to make about 10,000 units monthly.
In addition, Tata Motors has been delivering Nanos to a select 1.5 lakh customers as well as making open sales in select markets. Deliveries for one lakh customers began in July 2009 and this was followed by deliveries to over 55,000 customers who have preferred to retain their booking.
In mid-August, the company started open market sales of the Nano in Kerala. In October, it added Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to the list of states where people can buy the Nano directly from dealers. Today, the company announced open market sales in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Earlier this month, Tata Motors decided to install additional safety devices, especially for electrical and exhaust systems in all Nanos, to allay fears after fires in some vehicles.
The Nano was a huge hit among the middle class, with almost 2,03,703 people booking the vehicle in advance. At that time, Tata Motors shortlisted 1,00,000 owners through a computerised selection process. The company said that the cars were "price-protected" and that people would get the vehicle at "ex-showroom price". There was a further wait-list of 55,021 customers.