'MMRDA will build trans harbour link on its own if necessary'

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By Chittaranjan Tembhekar  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

It’s final. If the state fails to get suitable infrastructure majors to design and build the city’s most ambitious trans-harbour link between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, it will build it on its own.

Mumbai metro“If no one comes forward, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will build the link on its own, even if plots of land are to be sold in BKC to arrange for finances to award a cash contract,” said metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana on Wednesday.

The link promises to reduce travel time between Mumbai and the mainland towards Navi Mumbaiand Panvel by 30 to 40 minutes. As it will have a separate line for the Metro, the travel time of a commuter will further reduce.

The state government now appears to be determined to build the 23 km-long Nhava-Sewri link (also called the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link) that has been delayed by over a decade’s time. The project, that will see road and metro rail links side-by-side is expected to cost over Rs 8000 crore. The link is also known as Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL).

In the past, bidding for the project failed twice-once the Ambani brothers locked horns over contracting terms, and the second time, none of the companies including Ambani brothers could make ‘reasonable’ offers. In the next cash contract bidding, international firms asked for money against the depreciation of the rupee in the global market.

Apart from special economic zone developments, the new airport slated to come up at Panvel will also be connected by the link. The MTHL will have loop connectors towards CST, Worli and Chembur.

Though the MMRDA was cash-rich, Asthana said that it had ventured into too many projects. However, if it fails to find a private company willing to build the bridge, the MMRDA would finance the link on its own.

Asthana said that they expect to start the process of awarding the contract for MTHL by September and in the best-case scenario, the bridge should be ready within four-and-a-half years. Even if private companies do come forward, the state is supposed to contribute around Rs 2,400 crore for the project.

The MMRDA will also start the process to revive environmental clearance for the trans-harbour link.

Besides ongoing special economic zone developments, soon a land close to Belapur, Kharghar and Panvel will get a new airport and will have to be connected through MTHL. Towards Mumbai MTHL will be connected via loop connectors towards CST, Worli and Chembur.

When pointed out that MMRDA had a heavy purse, Asthana said MMRDA though was cash-rich had already ventured into too many projects. “We have blocks to be sold in G wing of BKC and enough FSI of 4 to earn good revenue,” he said pointing out that MMRDA will build finances on own if fails to get good private company to build the bridge.

According to him by September they are expected to start the process for awarding MTHL work and in the best-case scenario the bridge should be ready within four-and-half years. Asthana said the bridge was crucial in the development of the entire Mumbai region. Even if private companies come forward, state is suppose to share around Rs 2400 crore for the project.

He said MMRDA will soon start a process to revive the environmental clearance for MTHL which expired last year. “We also hope to get the land towards Navi Mumbai very soon for the MTHL development but towards Mumbai the BPT land, required for casting yard, is to be used for container depot expansion by BPT itself. We are in talks with BPT to get certain area and hope to resolve the matter soon,” said Asthana.

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