The proposed water transport project on the western and eastern coasts of Mumbai, which has been languishing for 12 years, may well be back on track.
On Monday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan directed Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the state's nodal agency for carrying out infrastructure projects, to undertake detailed studies within two months for both routes.
The studies will cover estimation of traffic, cost of building port infrastructure, estimated tariff and agreement clauses with private operators. Chavan also asked the agency to work out expression of interest documents for interested parties during this period.
While the western route aims to connect Borivli with Nariman Point, the eastern route aims to connect Nerul with Gateway of India.
Chavan's review of the water transport project comes following criticism from various quarters over the state's inability since 1999 to exploit the city's coastline, which will take the pressure off the roads.
"In the past, we had tried to get this project off the ground on a Build-Operate-Transfer (B-O-T) basis but did not succeed because the project was not viable," said Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad.
Now, the government is looking at creating the port infrastructure and then asking private operators to run the catamaran or roll-on and roll-off services using their own vessels.
"The project is viable through government funding of port infrastructure and I think it can take off,'' said Gaikwad.
If the studies by MSRDC show that the routes are viable in terms of sufficient traffic volume, the government plans to issue tenders for developing port infrastructure.
Chavan has asked MSRDC to look at building six jetties along the western route at Nariman Point, Bandra, Juhu, Versova, Marve and Borivli, and five jetties on the eastern route at either Gateway of India or Ferry Wharf, Nerul, Rewas, Mandwa and Alibaug.