Chinese companies may be itching to invest in India's infrastructure but the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is clear that it wants to keep them away from building the Mumbai-Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) due to security concerns.
Interestingly, Chinese companies have plenty of experience in constructing mid-sea bridges such as the MTHL. The Chinese have to their credit the HangZhou bridge which is the largest sea bridge in the world, covering a distance of 42km.
Discounting this, the MMRDA has firmly told prospective bidders that they should not join hands with Chinese companies if they want to bag tenders to build the 22-km long bridge that will connect Sewri in the island city to Nhava Sheva in Navi Mumbai.
"The proximity of the bridge to strategic locations such as ports, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and naval installations need to be considered for security clearances to applicants, consortium members or contractors," MMRDA told prospective bidders.
MMRDA officials feel that if a consortium brings in a Chinese partner, the project could get delayed as the Centre might raise objections to a Chinese entity working in close proximity to sensitive installations.
Although the Central government has been keen on allowing Chinese companies to invest in India, it has been apprehensive about their involvement in infrastructure projects at sensitive locations.
Recently, the government had banned the import of telecom equipment from Chinese firm Huawei for installation in border areas because of security concerns.
In 2005, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, did not receive security clearance from the Centre for participating in the Rs1,200-crore offshore container terminal project at Mumbai port and the Rs500-crore container terminal project at Chennai port.
Subsequently, infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro had to drop HPH from their consortium.