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Hovercraft plan back?

For nearly a decade, the city has collectively dreamed of commuting from the north of the city to the south on hovercraft that would zip across the Arabian Sea.

mumbai Updated: Jan 31, 2010 01:01 IST
Shashank Rao

For nearly a decade, the city has collectively dreamed of commuting from the north of the city to the south on hovercraft that would zip across the Arabian Sea.

Now, the state is trying to revive the Rs 600-crore Passenger Water Transport project, by moving it from the cash-strapped Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to its cash cow, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

“The state government is thinking of transferring the passenger transport project to MMRDA,” said UPS Madan, project manager, Mumbai Transformation Support Unit.

Sources in Mantralaya said the shift is being proposed since the MMRDA is already implementing major projects like the Metro and the Monorail, supporting the view that MMRDA — with its budget-surplus finances — is much better placed to implement the project.

Dilip Kawatkhar, chief PRO, MMRDA, confirmed that there has been talk of such a transfer, but said: “There has been no official communication about the transfer of this project.”

MSRDC last invited tenders for a hovercraft service between Nerul in Navi Mumbai, and Ferry Wharf at Dockyard Road in mid-2009, but cancelled the project after it failed to attract enough private firms. “We first need to identify the places on this route where the hovercraft will stop and then decide on the jetties,” S. Ashtekar, executive engineer, MSRDC said.

The announcement of tenders, and a decision on stops along the eastern route, will happen after the shift occurs, if at all.

MSRDC had initially called for tenders on the western side, between Borivli and Nariman Point. That was delayed after private firms failed to find foreign consortiums during the economic slump. The state now feels a project on the western side would be difficult as the water there is choppy and could be challenging for hovercraft. “Tenders will first be called for the eastern route, as of now, the western route is on hold,” the Mantralaya official added.