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DF allies pose hurdles for transport projects

The next time you are stuck in a traffic jam at Worli naka, remember you are partly to blame – because you voted in a coalition government, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

mumbai Updated: Feb 11, 2010 01:11 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The next time you are stuck in a traffic jam at Worli naka, remember you are partly to blame – because you voted in a coalition government.

Numerous transport projects in the city are on hold because of rivalry between Democratic Front allies. The Cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure, which formally clears any infrastructure project costing over Rs 25 crore, has not met for the last four months.

Big-ticket transport projects like the Worli-Haji Ali sea link, the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL), and the Sion-Panvel highway are awaiting clearance from the committee made up of cabinet ministers, and headed by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Sources said the delay stems from rivalry between departments headed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ministers like Public Works Department minister Chhagan Bhujbal, MSRDC minister Jaydutt Kshirsagar and Chavan over control of projects. Chavan had decided to reassess all big infrastructure projects after he took over as CM.

The 4.7-km extension to the Bandra-Worli sea link has been delayed by a year. Reliance Infrastructure and the Hyundai consortium, which quoted viability gap funding (a government grant to make a project commercially viable) of Rs 1,392 crore, had been given preference for the project in February 2009. The government clearance for the project has not come yet.

The Sion-Panvel highway project includes widening and improvement of the 25-km stretch, building of three flyovers, 10 underpasses and three foot over-bridges. IVRCL Infrastructure was selected last year to build this project.

State secretariat officials say the reassessment of the Haji Ali sea link and the Sion-Panvel highway is done but the meeting has not been called yet. “The Haji Ali project is unlikely to get a better bid since Reliance has quoted low VGF. If the project goes for retendering, the cost will only escalate,” said a senior bureaucrat on condition of anonymity.

“There is no question of retendering since we have qualified bidders. The sub-committee has not met since the elections. We are awaiting for the committee to meet to clear these projects,” Kshirsagar said.

The other big project, the 22-km MTHL, pending since 2006, is now stuck between two agencies, MMRDA, headed by Chavan and MSRDC by Kshirsagar.