Announcement of opening the 11.4-km-long Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro corridor was more of a Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) affair with not a single state government official present during the announcement function on Saturday afternoon.
Since 2007, when the contract was awarded to RInfra-Veolia on a public-private partnership basis, till date, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and RInfra officials have jointly addressed the media only thrice — signing of concession agreement in 2008, on November 13, 2009, at MMRDA's head office in Bandra-Kurla Complex, and on May 1, 2013, for trial runs. The joint press meet of 2009 was to rebut a news report about how the civil work of metro rail is way beyond schedule. The report had not gone down well with RInfra higher-ups, thereby immediately announcing "all is well" with the project. However, it missed the deadline of March 2012 by over two years.
Even on Saturday afternoon, when the moment arrived to formally announce opening of Maharashtra's first metro corridor, a historic moment, none of the MMRDA officials were present.
When Mumbai Metro project director Bharat Bhushan Modgil was asked about the reason behind their absence, he said, "We did invite them, but it must have been their decision."
Attempts were made to contact MMRDA commissioner UPS Madan on why none of their officials shared the dais, but he did not respond. Even other MMRDA officials maintained silence over the issue, clearly displaying all is not well within the consortium (Mumbai Metro One Private Limited) comprising RInfra, MMRDA and Veolia Transport. This time, the reason behind the stakeholders not coming together was fares, which the state government does not want increased.
RInfra is the majority partner in MMOPL with 69% stake as compared to 26% and 5% of MMRDA and Veolia Transport, respectively.