‘Will not build Bandra-Versova sea link without Centre’s help’
The future of the Rs 5,975-crore Bandra-Versova sea link (BVSL) project seems uncertain. For, the bidders plan to opt out of the tendering process, if the Centre does not provide viability gap funding for the project.
Viability gap funding is a Central grant given to a private player to make a public project feasible. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) expects the gap funding to be 20% of the cost of the sea link project.
“The shortlisted bidders have said they will lose interest in the project if the funding is not granted. The chief minister is expected to talk to the Centre about the funds soon,” said Anil Diggikar, managing director, MSRDC.
The 9.3-km project, which is aimed at easing traffic movement on SV Road and Western Express Highway (WEH), will be developed on build-operate-transfer ( BOT) mode. Only two consortia — IRB-Hyundai (South Korea) and Essel Infra-OHL (Spain) — have bid for the project.
Agitation against tolls and economic recession are the reasons behind the poor response, said an MSRDC official, on condition of anonymity.
The condition of the cont ract states t hat after t he completion of the sea link, the developer can charge toll for its concession period of 35 years to recover the project cost and make profits. The Central funding will reduce the concession period to 28-30 years.
Moreover, the state government is also keen on construction of a coastal road, which may hurt the prospects of the sea link.
In June, the state gave green light to development of water transport on the eastern coast. The transport on the western coast was kept on hold to make way for the road.
“The state government is keen to develop a coastal road, so it will decide whether to build a coastal road or the sea link,” Diggikar said.
The coastal road is planned from Nariman Point to Kandivli, for which the authorities need to make an amendment in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules.
The sea link, however, has received green clearance from the union environment ministry.