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Mumbai-Nagpur expressway to cost state at least Rs 5,000 crore more

Cost of the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway has gone up even before work has begun, with companies bidding higher for tenders than the state estimated

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2018 12:32 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai-Nagpur expressway,Mumbai,Nagpur
The 701-km expressway will reduce travel time between the cities by almost half.(HT File Photo)

The cost of the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway has gone up even before work has begun, with companies bidding higher for tenders than the state estimated.

The 701-km expressway will reduce travel time between the cities by almost half. While the state had pegged the cost of civil construction at Rs 30,000 crore, it is expected to go up by at least Rs 5,000 crore. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has received bids on an average 5% higher than its initial estimates. The project is totally expected to cost Rs 60,000 crore.

A pet project of CM Devendra Fadnavis, the expressway has run into issues since its inception, including opposition from farmers who did not want to part with their land.

While the MSRDC has managed to acquire 95% of the land it needs to build the expressway, it is yet to receive bids for three crucial sections in the Thane district. With environmental and forest clearance pending, the work on the Expressway is unlikely to take off before December, senior MSRDC officials said.

The bids for the project are higher perhaps because MSRDC did not consider cost of additional components, such as building smaller roads connecting to the highway, in its initial plan.

The mammoth project is divided into 16 construction packages, and so far, the MSRDC has awarded 13 of these construction packages — all at bids higher than the estimate.

“In 11 packages, we received bids higher by 3% or 5% of our estimated cost. We have approved these bids,” said AB Gaikwad, chief engineer, MSRDC. “In two other packages, we got bids higher by more than 9%. We negotiated with the bidders and the MSRDC board will approve them soon,” Gaikwad said. The higher bids increase the construction cost by Rs 2,000 crore. Earlier this month, the state government already cleared a proposal to revise the project cost from Rs 49,000 crore to Rs 55,000 crore.

What has added to the cost is the state’s decision to use concrete instead of asphalt as the material for the road. “Earlier, the road from Nagpur, up to 620km, was going to be asphalt. This has now been changed to concrete. The cost difference between asphalt and concrete works to around 6%,” Gaikwad said.

The state also plans to construct a 3-inch thick wall along the 701-km stretch that will act as a barrier and prevent wild animals from wandering into the expressway. “The cost of the wall is estimated to be around Rs 1,000 crore,” Gaikwad added.

First Published: Sep 27, 2018 04:24 IST