Various experts and consultants have pointed to Mumbai’s 62-km coastline as the answer to the city’s commuting problems. Various ideas, from inland water transport to roads parallel to the sea, were floated, but the Bandra-Worli Sealink is the only project that has become a reality.
The sealink itself is only part of a larger project — the 20-km Western Freeway Sea Link (WFSL) planned from Bandra till Nariman Point. The WFSL is part of a series of inter-connected sea bridges that is expected to solve Mumbai’s traffic woes.
When it will see the light of day is anybody’s guess.
The second part of WFSL is the 3.3-km Worli-Haji Ali Sealink that the government hopes to complete by 2013. The final part will be the 10.9-km Haji Ali-Nariman Point Sealink.
The Reliance Infrastructure-Hyundai consortium emerged as the preferred bidder for the Worli-Haji Ali phase in February. The consortium sought Rs 1,392 crore from the government as viability gap funding — money given by the government to make the project economically viable. This was lower then the Rs 2,466 crore sought by the HCC-John Laing-Samsung consortium.
The government, however, is still debating whom the contract should go to. “We are evaluating the financial details; a decision will be taken soon,” Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said.
The base cost is Rs 1,120 crore, but the bidder must also buy the 5.6-km Bandra Worli Sealink from the state for Rs 1,640 crore.
The total cost of the bridges that will connect Bandra to Haji Ali has been pegged at Rs 4,500 crore. The winning bidder will have to pay this amount in return for toll collection rights. The cost will be recovered over 40 years, after which the bridges will be given back to the government.