Case Study: Calcutta’s Metro In 1996, Calcutta’s long-waited metro finally opened to a collective sigh of relief from the long-suffering population of this large Indian city. Critics had long derided the project a one of the “slowest-moving” public works projects ever conceived and implemented. The single route line, comprising 17 stations and slightly more tan 10 total miles of track, had taken 23 years from the date it was first approved at a final estimated cost of almost $5 billion.
To put this figure into perspective, New York City’s subway system boasts 656 miles of mainline track and 468 stations, all for a city whose population is significantly less than Calcutta’s estimated 11 million residents. Calcutta’s Metro project represents a textbook example of the problems that can arise from poor planning. The project was initially hampered by poor funding that slowed the development process. However, it was during project planning that a number of constraints became apparent that were to negatively impact on the project.
For example, one factor that impeded progress was the decision to begin construction right in the middle of the city. Rather than start at one of the two terminal points, the project managers elected to begin digging in the city center, first tunneling down and then in both directions simultaneously, The problems with soil removal and heavy equipment transportation rose dramatically as a result. Among the other factors that the Metro project had to work around were: 1. Exclusive possession of the site was not possible. Normal life in the city had to go on as usual.
While this is a normal by-product of most metropolitan construction, in a city the size and congestion of Calcutta, with an inadequate road system to begin with, there was a constant battle between maintaining normal traffic flows and creating enough buffers to allow for Metro construction. 2. Traffic could not be fully diverted from the roads. The road system was almost completely inadequate to start. It was, therefore, impossible to divert traffic from already dreadfully overcrowded thoroughfares. 3. Uncharted utilities (sewer, water, gas mains, phone, electric cables). By far of the worst features of construction was he near total absence of a master plan showing the location of underground utilities and cable lines? Work was continually started, stopped, and gradually restarted as crews and await their repairs to the infrastructure. 4. Shops around the site had to be provided with view and approach. Local shop owners were justifiably worried about the effect on their commerce of closing off access to their shops while construction went on. They actively worked against Metro development until they were individually provided with access lanes from their shops to the still-operating streets.
Another unforeseen problem resulted from the large bureaucracy that sprang up around the Metro’s construction. Utilizing thousands of laborers, the project organization led to the creation of a huge social umbrella for employees and the families, as housing, schools, and medical centers were created and subsidized by the Metro Authority for the life of the project. In fact, one critic argued that it was wishful thinking to assume that workers would be motivated to quickly complete a project that provided such a comprehensive set of benefits for them and their families. nd answer the following questions: 1. Assume that you are the mayor of Calcutta, soliciting bids for the construction of the Metro. How would you construct a Statement of Work for the project to encourage efficient and creative means for undertaking this project? Ans. The first main consideration for the construction of the project is the funds. It is said that money makes many things in many a beautiful way. So as the mayor of Calcutta my first step is to get the funds required to start up this project. These funds would be got from various sources like donations, taxes, loans etc.
Once the funds are obtained the next step would be to look into the plan of the project. I would take the opinion of few eminent engineers before a particular plan is taken up. I would make it a point to see to it that the various pros and cons of different plans are taken into consideration before starting the project. Then I would select that project which would give us the maximum benefits within the available budget and least disturbances to the normal life in the city. I would consider the efficient labor to carry on the work of this project.
I would take care to see that all the basic facilities that are required by the citizens would not get disturbed due to the beginning of this project. That is to say that the project would not cause any kind of inconveniences to the normal life of the citizens. 2. Which of the problems the Metro project faced were the result of a poorly conceived project scope and how much was due to simple bad luck? Defend your position. Ans. In my opinion there is nothing called as bad luck and nothing happens by chance. Everything is planned and has a certain purpose.
It is only our hard work that will make us or mar us. Therefore it is important to take into consideration a 360 degree view of any problem before we solve it. If the situation is looked into from only one angle all the disadvantages of the remaining angles will pop up. Although it may be a little time consuming and painful in the beginning but it is important to know that the hard work pays it all. Had the mayor seen the consequences of starting this project from various points of view I believe this situation would not have risen at all.