Twenty-seven years after it was formulated and after numerous hiccups, the state government’s endeavour to use Mumbai’s 80-km coastline for ferrying passengers may come true in the next three years.
With the government giving its nod for three ferry lines — East Coast Project, West Coast Project and Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) service — the water transport plan is gradually picking up speed.
The state government has found bidders for running the project between Borivli to Nariman Point. It has now asked the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to start work on the East Coast Project, which will connect Jamshedji Bunder to Nerul.
The sole bidder for running the Borivli-Nariman Point water taxi is Pratibha Industries Ltd which would be provided technical support by Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd, Malaysia’s premier dredging company.
It emerged as the sole bidder for the project after it submitted bids in June.
However, there was a minor controversy after other parties claimed that the bid should be rejected as it was a sole one. MSRDC officials claimed that other parties had not shown interest in submitting their proposals even after buying the bid documents.
In the next few days, the state is likely to give clearance to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to start a Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) service from Ferry Wharf to Mandva which will not only transport commuters but also heavy vehicles.
“Water transport is an important transportation system which can ease Mumbai’s commuting woes. The MSRDC is already taking up the West Coast Project and it will start work on the East Coast Project as well,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Cities such as Shanghai, Venice, London, New York and San Francisco have a water transport system which is low-cost, environment-friendly and easy to implement transportation system.
First mooted in 1983 by the Government of Maharashtra, the water transport project over the past decade has been mired in bureaucratic bungling, litigation and corporate intrigue.
The only development on this front is that the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation has got a bidder willing to run a service from Borivli to Nariman Point for 29 years.
The proposal is yet to get the government’s go-ahead but officials say it is a positive development for a project which had no takers for many years.
“We are hopeful that the first phase of the West Coast Project from Nariman Point-Bandra-Versova will be completed in 22 months after we get clearance from the government,” said Sonia Sethi, MSRDC joint vice-chairman and managing director.