With the union finance ministry's nod to the 20% viability gap funding for the Rs9630-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) expects to start work on the project in a time-framed manner.
The 22-km sea bridge, which would link Navi Mumbai with the mainland, is being built to decongest the city and promote growth in Raigad district. The MMRDA expects financial bids from the five consortiums shortlisted by it by the end of April. With the completion of bidding in the next few months, the construction is likely to begin by the end of the year, and is expected to be completed in five years.
The sealink, with a capacity of 1.5 lakh vehicles on the 3+3-lane bridge, is expecting 45,000 vehicles in the first year. "The total concession period offered is 35 years including the expected five years for construction. More the construction period less the period for the collection of the toll on the bridge," said Rahul Asthana, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, adding the delay in the project would attract penalty.
With the maximum VGF cap being 40%, 20% would be borne by the MMRDA. The remaining cost is expected to be raised by the consortium (that wins the project) with 70% debt and 30% equity. MMRDA has offered to help the consortium to get soft loans from financial institutions. "It would help the shortlisted bidders in quoting less VGF," said Asthana, adding that environmental and other clearances have already been obtained.
Of the 98 hectares required to be acquired for the project, 28 hectares from three villages in Uran are yet to be acquired. Ashwini Bhide, joint commissioner, said the issues would be sorted out once the compensation package is finalised. "We will offer the same package finalised by CIDCO for the Navi Mumbai Airport project," she said.
Transport expert Ashok Datar said: "The MTHL will surely reduce the travelling period to satellite towns in Uran. But the government should ensure availability of affordable housing in the suburbs of Uran."