Almost one-and-a-half year after its inception, Hyderabad Metro Rail continues to set new standards for public transportation in India. From being the second largest metro line after Delhi, to opening an exclusive all women metro station, Hyderabad Metro is proving out to be an inclusive initiative that is also building a greener urban city. The HMRL Managing Director, NVS Reddy shares plans for future expansion and explains how growing metro is facilitating urban rejuvenation, in a chat with Gaura Naithani.
How do you see metro facilitating urban rejuvenation?
Hyderabad Metro is slightly different from metros in other cities. Here, it is a social project that offers us an opportunity to redesign a greener city for the citizens. All over the world, cities have been designed to accommodate automobiles but we have come to realise that we cannot build a city for cars. We instead built it for people, women, children and the differently-abled. This way we are incorporating more lung-spaces in metro stations. Miyapur station has close to 10 acres of land developed as a public space. Also, to reduce traffic congestions and growing carbon footprint, we have created sidewalks at stations. Also, places like Uppal and LB Nagar are now becoming commercial hubs owing to the metro. The land prices have risen from Rs 10,000 per sq yard to Rs 70,000 per sq yard in Uppal.
How is metro better organised public transportation system contributing to economy?
We have roughly spent around Rs 17,000 crore on this project so far. The total expenditure, however, is expected to be around Rs 20,000 crore. But all this money will be recovered through indirect investments. Take the Next Galleria Mall at Punjagutta which is not only generating revenue but also large amount of employment. We are now in the process of opening four more such malls next to various metro stations which will lead to direct and indirect large scale employment opportunities. Our intention is to turn metro stations into activity hubs and provide every possible service that a human being needs which helps cut down unnecessary travel time.
What are the last-mile connectivity options?
We have a few bikes and cars as it is just the beginning. There is a long way to go for which we are encouraging more companies to contribute bikes, cars and electrical vehicles. We will soon be installing mini and electric buses to reduce pollution. We identified traffic catchment areas for every metro station up to 3 to 4 km where last-mile connectivity will be expanded to reduce dependency on private vehicles. Hyderabad is adding 5 lakh private vehicles every year and our aim is to check this explosion.
On concerns on damage to heritage and religious structures:
We are ensuring that heritage structures are not touched. Old city is a completely different ball game and there are many complicated issues there. Local leadership initially raised apprehensions and that’s why the project got stalled. There are engineering solutions available and we will provide them.
What are the expansion plans?
We are in the process of bridging the 5 km stretch from Nagole and LB Nagar in phase two. Connection to the Airport is also a priority. By November this year, we will go up to Mind Space from where via the Outer Ring Road we will be laying an outlay for airport connectivity. Our goal is to connect to the airport from all the sides.