After nearly a decade of flip-flopping over the need for a water transport project in the city, the state government has decided to build the project on its own.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) board on Tuesday.
The MSRDC will provide and construct the infrastructure needed for the water transport project. It will then hand it over to a private operator.
Until recently, the MSRDC was looking at appointing a private operator to construct and run the project. However, the state empowered committee headed by the chief secretary recommended that the agency build the project on its own with the help of funds from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
Hindustan Times had reported on April 10 on the government planning to scrap the bid it received from a private company to build the city’s to first waterway transport system.
“We will now build the water transport project on our own. We will fund it and give it to a private operator to run,” said Jaydutt Kshirsagar, PWD minister incharge of MSRDC.
In June 2010, the MSRDC had received a single bid by Pratibha Industries to build the water transport system on the western coast from Borivli to Nariman Point.
The financial bid for the project was opened in August 2010 in which Pratibha Industries claimed that it would recover the cost of the Rs1,200-crore project in a period of 29 years and then hand over the project to the government.
The MSRDC’s board on September 9, 2010, cleared the proposal and sent it to the state government for further scrutiny. The state government, however, sat on the proposal and the validity of the bid lapsed.
According to sources in the MSRDC, the bid was not accepted since the Opposition members had raised questions about the acceptance of a single bid by the government and the capability of the concessionaire over implementing the project.
Also, there were issues between the concessionaire and the MSRDC over various works, including infrastructure development near the jetties and terminals of the project.
The MSRDC now feels that it should construct the project on its own through its own resources instead of depending on a private operator.
The agency has already started seeking consultants to start work on the water transport project on the eastern coast from Ferry Wharf till Nerul and also till Mandva, Reva, and JNPT.
It is contemplating starting a passenger transport system but also a roll-on-roll-off service through which vehicles can be moved from one point to the other.