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Mumbai-Nagpur expressway project likely to be delayed

The state is keen to kick-off the civil construction of the 706-km expressway by October

mumbai Updated: Aug 08, 2017 09:26 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Congress is planning to demand an independent audit of the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway project.(Pic for Representation)

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s pet project — Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communications Expressway — which is already facing hurdles owing to corruption allegations levelled against IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar, is unlikely to be completed on time.

The state is keen to kick-off the civil construction of the 706-km expressway by October but the detailed project report (DPR) is not ready yet. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is still on the first stage of bidding.

MSRDC recently extended the deadline for submitting bids. “The extension was sought by companies to complete paperwork. The new date is August 11,” said Kiran Kurundkar, joint managing director, MSRDC.

The corporation had received 27 bids for 16 construction packages. “Out of that, only 10 companies were eligible. So certain conditions were relaxed to increase competition and a fresh bids were called,” a senior official added. This was the third round of bids for the project since January 2.

A senior official working on the project said evaluating new bids would take a month. “After that, we can call for bids. In the meantime, the DPR will be ready, which is a prerequisite for floating bids,” the official said.

Apart from the technical challenges, Fadnavis’ pet project faces a political challenge. After the CM told the legislative assembly that the allegation against Mopalwar, who headed MSRDC, do not pertain to the project, the Congress and NCP are planning to corner the government over the issue in the last few days of the monsoon session.

Congress is also planning to demand an independent audit of the project. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the party will discuss this in a meeting on Tuesday. “The process of acquisition is controversial. Several officials have bought land along the alignment. The project must be audited by an independent institution,” Sawant said.

Baban Harne, convener of Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti, a body which is spearheading the opposition to the expressway, said, “An independent audit of the alignment that was planned by Mopalwar must be conducted by the CM given the current scenario. We will write to the CM demanding an audit.”

Days after Mopalwar was suspended, the state gave CIDCO MD Bhushan Gagrani the additional charge of the corporation.

First Published: Aug 08, 2017 09:26 IST