The government's ambitious plan for building a sea link to connect Mumbai with the mainland got a push on Thursday.
After procrastinating for three years, the state government has decided to ask the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build the 22-km Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), which will link the city to Raigad district. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan made the announcement in the Legislative Council on Thursday.
Replying to a debate on the city’s infrastructure, Chavan said the MMRDA would now focus exclusively on infrastructure projects. “The MMRDA will implement the much-delayed MTHL project which connects Nhava Sheva to Sewri. It will also appoint engineering and financial consultants to assist it,” said Chavan.
If everything goes as planned, work on the project will start by the end of 2012 and is likely to be completed in six years with a partial opening in four years.
Interestingly, Chavan himself heads the MMRDA, which has been competing with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to build the 22.5km sea bridge. However, Chavan’s coalition partner, the Nationalist Congress Party that runs the MSRDC, have been vocal against the MMRDA.
In 2008, when the tender was first floated, there were two parties and the financial gap was huge and in 2009 the tender did not get response due to global recession, Chavan said while explaining the delay.
Also, the feud between the government agencies added to the delay. In April 2010, the then chief minister Ashok Chavan had asked urban development secretary TC Benjamin to prepare a report on which agency should be given the project.
Meanwhile, the MMRDA said that it will appoint a consultant to finalise a detailed project report. The development authority is looking at building the project on public-private partnership model.
“We will float bids for the project by November and hopefully award the contract by March 2012,” metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said.