If all goes as anticipated, by 2014 end you could travel from south Mumbai's Ferry Wharf to Nerul in Navi Mumbai on a state-of-the-art catamaran that will run on the city’s east coast.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has decided to expedite the much-delayed water transport project by calling out to bidders.
“We are planning to call for bids for the Eastern Freeway water project by January 2012,” said MSRDC vice-chairman and managing director Bipin Shrimali.
MSRDC officials say that once the service is operational, passengers will be able to cover the distance of 13 nautical miles in nearly half-an-hour. A road trip from south Mumbai to Navi Mumbai takes an average of 90 minutes.
Officials also said a single trip could cost around Rs150 per person. The service will be operational for nine months and will be closed during the monsoon.
The project will be undertaken in two phases. The MSRDC will spend Rs300 crore on developing infrastructure such as building and improving jetties at Ferry Wharf and Nerul.
The MSRDC will also build a 800-metre elevated road from P D’mello road till the Ferry Wharf to give people better access to the service.
The MSRDC will float another tender for the appointment of an operator for the projects. The private operator will purchase the catamarans or hovercrafts and run the service.
This part of the project will cost around Rs 250 crore. The operator will have to shell out this amount and ultimately recover the costs when they begin operations. “We are planning to get this infrastructure ready within 18 months,” Shrimali said.
The Eastern Freeway water project had been initiated by the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd in the early 90s.
However, the Mumbai Port Trust had raised objections on setting up a terminal at Ferry Wharf and the project had been stalled. Bidders were hard to come by as many felt they would not be able to recover their investment.
But now, the government claims to have broken the ice with the Mumbai Port Trust and says it has been able to secure permission to run the services from the port trust-owned land.
The MSRDC is also looking at starting the Western Freeway water project, which will connect Borivli to Nariman Point.