While India’s first sealink in Mumbai took eight years to build, China built two sea bridges nearly six times as long, connecting Shanghai with nearby hubs, in about half the time — in three to five years each.
<b1>During the eight years, work on Mumbai’s Sealink crawled and often stalled; in contrast, residents of Shanghai have began commuting through six tunnels under the Huangpu River that cuts through China’s largest city and financial capital in the last 10 years.
Eight more underwater tunnels are being built in Shanghai, the city Maharashtra’s politicians once promised Mumbai would transform into.
The tunnels are built in two years each. The average time required to finish the basic tunnelling: 10 months.
“In India, mobilising resources, equipment and workers requires 14 months compared to four or six months in China,” Lu Yuan Qiang, general manager (overseas department) of Shanghai Urban Construction Group Corporation, told HT in an exclusive interview. The Shanghai Urban Construction Group Corporation is part of a joint venture that’s building the nearly-finished 2.3-m tunnel linking the Delhi metro station to the airport.
“India has big room to improve,” said Lu, who has seen the Sealink and said it need not have taken so long to build.
In Shanghai, the world’s widest 8.9-km double-deck tunnel under the Yangtze River, with a six lane expressway plus metro line, is scheduled to open on October 1 — less than five years after the project began.
Infrastructure experts who have worked in both India and China say the sway of China’s authoritarian one-party rule, which makes it easy for bulldozers to raze settlements despite public protest, is not the only reason its boomtowns build infrastructure faster than Indian metros.
“The Shanghai municipal government pushes us to complete projects quickly and also supports us,” Lu said. “We have enough resources. Mobilisation, procurement, cash flow, everything is convenient in China.”
“In China, there is competition and pressure to complete on schedule,” said JJ Shrikhande, the Shanghai-based China head of Larsen & Toubro. “The availability of finance and resources is never a bottleneck in Chin and there are less bureaucratic delays as compared to India.”
The Shanghai Urban Construction Group is preparing tenders for the Chennai and Kolkata metro tunnels.
“Doing business in India is a little difficult for Chinese contractors,” said Lu. “There is discrimination. Work permits are hard to get and procedures for approvals take very long.”