Soon, no tolls for motorists on roads connecting JNPT

September 10, 2014

Navi Mumbai: Motorists plying on major roads leading to and from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), who are not port-bound, will not have to pay toll soon. Instead, the toll amount will be recovered only from port-bound vehicles at the JNPT end.

JN Port Road Company Limited — a special purpose vehicle (SPV) floated with equity participation by JNPT, City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) and National Highways Authority of India – has dropped the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model of widening the three roads at a cost of Rs 2,700 crore (revised estimate).

Sources from Cidco said that the BOT model, which involved recovery of investment through toll from all motorists, was dropped to avoid people’s ire related to payment of toll.

Now, JN Port Road Company Limited has decided to undertake the project on EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) model under orders from union minister of shipping, road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari.

JNPT chairman N N Kumar said, “This BOT model has been dropped officially following orders from Nitin Gadkari. A decision has been taken by the SPV board and a tender is likely to be issued in another 20 days.”

Gadkari is understood to have dropped the toll model on roads leading to and from JNPT, as PM’s visit to the city on August 16 came in the backdrop of the state’s decision to consider waiving off toll on the cost it incurred on upgrading the 10-laning of the Sion Panvel highway (Rs 1,220 crore) from BARC to Kalamboli.

During his visit, Narendra Modi also laid the foundation stone for JNPT SEZ, at Sheva. It is the first port-led growth envisioned by the PM on engineering, procurement and construction model.

On Thursday, Congress chief minister Prithviraj Chavan responded to an earlier suggestion made by Ajit Pawar for a waiver of toll on the Sion-Panvel highway, and said, “A decision is likely in a few days.” Pawar had sought Cidco to pay Rs 1,000 crore and the MMRDA to bear the rest of the cost.

Apart from this, motorists have another reason to cheer. They can enjoy a seamless drive along three roads leading to and from the port – NH-4B, SH-54 and Amre Marg – as specific stretches would be widened soon with the addition of lanes and service roads (See Box). The project will also aid container trailers plying to and from the port. As the present capacity of freight handled will go up once the fourth JNPT terminal becomes operational, the number of container trailers will also increase.

Source:Times of India

Boost for MTHL after roadblocks

July 31, 2014

  The Times of India (Mumbai)

Experts Will Submit Analysis In Few Months: MMRDA Chief

The Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is likely to provide up to 80% as a loan for the ambitious Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project, which will bring Mumbai and Navi Mumbai closer by half an hour .The indication to fund the project was given after the Japanese team conducted a preliminary survey. 

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will execute the Rs 11,000 crore project on cash contract basis. MMRDA commissioner U P S Madan said, “The team gave us favourable indications about funding the project. Out of the total cost of approximately Rs 11,000 crore, the agency is likely to provide us a loan of approximately Rs 8,800 crore.“


The Union government has already approved 20% of the project cost as the viability gap funding (VGF).

Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) commissioner U P S Madan said, “ Agency officials will work on several aspects of the project in detail. After their analysis, they will provide us with inputs which can enhance constructability and shorten the project’s construction period. Given their experience in the construction of long sea bridges, we look forward to their suggestions.“

“As the project is to be constructed on an engineering procurement-contract (EPC) basis, we expect large contractor companies (Indian and foreign) to show interest in the project. The Japanese experts will submit their analysis in a few months,“ he said.

MMRDA decided to undertake construction of the 22 km MTHL on cash contract after it failed to receive a bid from a pre-qualified consortia till August 2013, when it tried to execute the project on public-private-partnership (PPP) basis.

The project was proposed in the 1970s. The first serious attempt to build the bridge was made in 2008 but it fell through because of a dispute between the Ambani brothers.

Environmentalists, led by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), had sought a change in the alignment of the link–it wanted the starting point of the MTHL to start 700 metres south of its current position in Sewri. BNHS argued that this realignment was crucial to save the Sewri mudflats and flamingos.

According to BNHS, there are around 150 bird species in the area. BirdLife International and BNHS have designated the area as an important bird area and “a potential Ramsar site“.

Coastal road: Two consultancy firms show interest

December 13, 2013

Wednesday,   | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

DNA Correspondent

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) request for proposal (RFP) to appoint consultant to obtain environmental clearances for the ambitious coastal road project has received responses from two companies.

Pentacle Consultants Private Limited and Stup Consultants, both based in Mumbai, are the two companies which have expressed interest in BMC’s RFP.

One of the two companies will be appointed to prepare detailed project report (DPR) and propose a cost effective model to implement the multi-crore project, besides procuring the environmental approvals.

This is the third time the civic body has sought RFP for the multi-crore project. Earlier, it had sought interest from private players in February this year. However, only one firm had responded then. It sought RFP in March with four companies coming to the fore. But those companies did not fit the bill technically.

“The BMC will scrutinise applications by the two agencies which will take at least 15 days.

Financial bids are expected to be opened towards December-end. If all goes as planned, a proposal on appointment of consultant will be tabled before the standing committee in January,” said a senior civic official.

According to officials, the BMC may not seek RFP again as it will be a time-consuming process.

Once approved by the standing committee, a consultant will have to prepare the project report and procure clearances from Ministry of Environment and Forest within 450 days. “It is important the consultants procure permissions within stipulated time frame to ensure the project work begins in near future,” the official added.

The project
The proposed 35.6-km road stretch between South Mumbai and Kandivli will start at Manora MLA House in Nariman Point. It will tread through a tunnel between NCPA and Air India building. It can be accessed from 18 points on the stretch.



First step to link Eastern Express Highway with Bandra-Kurla Complex set to begin

December 9, 2013

 Agency: DNA

Ateeq Shaikh

 The process of documentation for construction of a proposed elevated road connecting between the business district of Bandra-Kurla Complex and Eastern Express Highway is scheduled to commence shortly.

An official of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said that in another month or so they will commence the process of inviting bids to construct the bridge linking the Eastern Express Highway and LBS Road to Bandra-Kurla Complex.

The project had been conceptualised sometime in 2008, but was later put in the cold storage only to be revived earlier this year.

In 2008, however, the estimated cost of the project stood at Rs125crore, which now stands at Rs300crore.

Now, the bridge will be a cable-stayed one, quite similar to the Bandra Worli Sea Link or the Metro rail bridge over the Western Express Highway in Andheri.

The bridge that will cross River Mithi as well as Central Railway’s main and harbour lines will be erected between Chunabhatti and MTNL junction in Bandra-Kurla Complex. Currently, it takes close to 45 minutes to traverse this distance, but once it is ready in another two years, it will cut short the commuting time to just 10 or 15 minutes.

Authorities claim that this bridge, once it is ready, will negate the need to construct a parallel flyover at Sion Circle. So because the proposed bridge will take care to ease the vehicular traffic.

It will also drastically reduce the traffic congestion on the Sion-Dharavi Link Road – a stretch which is perennially clogged.



Kapurbawdi flyover inaugurated, commuters jubilant

November 20, 2013

Manoj Badgeri, TNN |

THANE: Commuters using the newly-inaugurated arm of the Kapurbawdi flyover expressed their delight after travelling on it. The journey that used to initially take almost 30 minutes, now gets done within a minutes.”I live in Waghbil and earlier it used to take me a lot of time travelling from Majiwada till my place. It was a great experience plying on this stretch,” said Jayesh Mane, a motorist.

However, there were some motorists who continued to use the road below as they were unaware that the flyover was finally open to the public. This resulted in a major jam on Tuesday evening.

”We didn’t know that the flyover was open for commuters. It was only after we reached the end of the road that we noticed vehicles zipping down from the flyover. We will have to wait till tomorrow to experience driving on the flyover,” said a couple who were driving to their home at Manpada.

Lack of boards informing motorists about the opening of the flyover may be one of the reason why many took the road beneath. ”Several vehicles were still using the roads underneath the flyover, leading to traffic jam. We have asked the MSRDC to install boards informing motorists that the flyover has been thrown open for traffic,” said a traffic cop manning the junction.

Even though residents were excited about the opening of one arm, they are still awaiting the completion of the entire flyover. ”Once the work on the entire flyover is completed it will be a smooth ride for motorists. Since Monday, there has been less traffic snarls on this stretch. We hope the entire flyover is open soon,” said Ramakant Rane, who lives at Majiwada junction.

Earlier the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had stated that the entire flyover will be completed by March 2014. But now sources within the organization have claimed that it could take longer as work on the Ghodbunder Road-Mumbai arm may take more time as the officials are still awaiting an approval from the National Highways Authority of Indian (NHAI) for the construction on the Nashik highway.

Though, commuting agony may have eased by 40% at Majiwada now after opening up of one arm of the Kapurbawdi flyover, complete relief for Thane motorists is most likely to be a distant dream. Despite tall claims by the MSRDC to complete the entire flyover network by March 2014, sources within the organization inform that a vital stretch on the GB road-Mumbai arm will possibly delay the project as key approval from the NHAI for construction on the Nashik highway is still expected.

The implementing agency is in the line of fire of both the residents and elected representatives for the inordinate delay in completing the Rs 197 crore worth flyover network. The agency has missed several deadlines in the past with the latest being in June this year and every time it has cited some excuse or blamed other agencies for the delay. Though the Mumbai-Ghodbunder arm is ready, snarls may continue underneath the flyover for motorists, said traffic officials. “A notable volume of traffic at the junction and heading towards Ghodbunder comes from Mumbai and now that the arm is open for traffic, Mumbai-Ghodbunder-Ahmedabad bound vehicles wont use the junction beneath. We will now be in a better position to divert traffic coming from the city and Nashik towards Ghodbunder,” says a traffic official.

Experts said that the junction will be free of congestions only after the complete flyover is thrown open. Even chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who is known to have an acumen for engineering projects, on Monday during the inauguration, expressed his desire that all the arms of the network were to be completed together.

The bone of contention is the GB road-Mumbai arm that entails a loop design over the Nashik highway and an approval from the NHAI for the same. Activist Chandrahas Tawade who filed a query under the RTI rubbishes the possibility of MSRDC meeting the new deadline and alleges that it hasn’t secured any approval from the NHAI required for erecting pillars on the highway. “They are yet to get approvals for the same and this might easily delay the project,” he laments. Sameer Shah, a motorist on the stretch expressed his angst at the slow pace of the work. “This project will be remembered in the history of Thane for its innumerable deadlines and delays.”

An MSRDC official said official requesting anonymity on Monday confirmed that the agency is yet to get an approval from the NHAI but said they were confident of getting the same in the coming days.


Contractors cheated BMC out of crores

October 19, 2013

Hemali Chhapia & Bhavika Jain, TNN


MUMBAI: An internal audit by the BMC of its road and traffic department has revealed that in many road projects standard procedures were not followed, rules ignored and costs escalated beyond permissible limits.In one instance, the civic corporation paid Rs 9.7 crore above the contract cost of Rs 121.7 crore for the construction of a road overbridge in Jogeshwari. The contractor argued the fatter bill by claiming price escalations. But why the civic body consented is unknown given that, as per rules, the maximum price variation can be 5% of the contract cost-—which in this case comes to Rs 6.1 crore.

RTI activist Vihar Durve demanded strict action against errant officers. “Compliance with earlier inspection reports is pending. For 1996-97 and 2000-01 periods, no explanation has been furnished on why undue benefit accrued to contractors. In many cases, final bills have not been submitted. Such tardiness is unacceptable,” said Durve. Some officials conceded that departments ignore auditors’ remarks and do not take corrective action. Additional municipal commissioner S V R Srinivas, who is in charge of the roads department , said on Friday that he cannot comment on the inspection report until he reads it.

Others, however, argued against the specific points in the audit. They said that contractors are paid extra for transportation of debris, despite the job being part of their contracts, if the distance from the work site to the dumping ground is high. Also, they said, roads dug up by multiple utility agencies can be rebuilt within their guarantee period.

3 flyovers to reduce traffic on GB road

October 19, 2013

Manoj Badgeri, TNN |


THANE: If all goes according to the plan, then the Ghodbunder stretch could find three more flyovers at Anand Nagar, Kasarwadawli and Ovala junctions.The plan apparently is to pave way for outbound traffic towards Borivli. and also make the stretch free for movement of city-traffic.

The proposal will soon be presented to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for its implementation.

A delegation, including Thane guardian minister Ganesh Naik and MP Dr Sanjeev Naik, met the deputy chief minister to highlight the demands of Thane city last Tuesday. The meet was atended by MMRDA metropolitan commissioner U P S Madaan and MSRDC officials. MSRDC officials said that the proposal was floated by the guardian minister and they are yet to finalise it. “The flyovers will roughly cost around Rs 75 crore. Each of these flyovers would be around 150m long with four lanes (two lanes on each side).

“There is a long standing demand for these flyovers in the area that witnesses severe traffic snarls,” said MP Dr Sanjeev Naik, who was present at the meeting. Presently, there are three flyovers over busy junctions at Manpada, Patlipada and Waghbil. that cut down travel time of outbound traffic considerably as they bypass these choc-a-bloc junctions.

Residents and motorists said the same will ease traffic considerably.

“Once you cross the Majiwada junction, travelling is comfortable. The problem starts only from Anand Nagar to Ovala where traffic has to halt at signals,” said Bhavesh Shah, who travels to Bhayender for work daily.

Dr Dnyandev Daki who stays at Kasarvadavli said the stretch is prone to heavy traffic during the peak hours. “With heavy traffic criss crossing the stretch, local residents are inconvenienced. It takes considerable time to cross the signal and reach home. A flyover here would greatly ease the congestion,” he says.

Rakhi Patil, another resident said an elevated road right from Anand Nagar to Ovala would also greatly help free the stretch for local traffic. “The city is expanding and one needs space to accommodate local vehicles on the roads,” she said.

The long standing proposal was presented by Thane guardian minister Ganesh Naik at a meeting with the deputy chief minister on Tuesday.

“I will follow up with the chief minister for fast implementation of these projects,” said deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.

Mumbai lags behind other Indian cities in infrastructure

October 11, 2013

By Rachita Prasad, ET Bureau |


“Mumbai lacks the political push that’s needed for these projects, while the government and state agencies in other cities are collectively working on clearing logjam on the ground so that they can expedite infrastructure projects,” an expert said.<br /><br /><br /><br />

(“Mumbai lacks the political push that’s needed for these projects, while the government and state agencies in other cities are collectively working on clearing logjam on the ground so that they can expedite infrastructure projects,” an expert said.)

MUMBAI: Vinayak Thakur, a foreign exchange dealer with a UK-based investment bank, has lived in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai and currently resides in Bangalore. Looking back, he thinks the city of dreams, with its creaky infrastructure, is a nightmare.

With many cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and even relatively sleepy Jaipur rapidly modernising and developing swanky metro lines to ferry people, Mumbaikars, barring the privileged few who live and work in South Mumbai or posh pockets of some suburbs, are beginning to feel left behind. “Mumbai was the city where careers were made earlier, so people were ready to struggle everyday in the trains or fight the traffic on roads. Now other cities offer growth opportunity and have better infrastructure, so why would I want to live in Mumbai,” Thakur says.

The metropolis that once dreamed of becoming a global financial hub and outshining Shanghai offers choked roads, multitudes living in slums, and people taking jam-packed trains to their office that may be in a shiny tower in the middle of a dirty, low-lying locality.

Civic authorities admit there is chaos on the roads. “City suffers from serious traffic congestion with the average speed on major city roads being less than 15 km per hour. Due to lack of availability of land it is difficult to expand the road network and local trains are already overloaded, so building of a mass rapid transit system is the need of the hour,” Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority said after tying up funding for metro line III.

The city has built flyovers, a sea link that bypasses jammed roads on way from the airport to south Mumbai, and recently commissioned 16.8 km Eastern Freeway. But it hasn’t kept pace with demand and the congested city where land is scarce, has lagged behind other Indian cities in developing mass rapid transport despite grand plans. “The strategic planning done for Mumbai has been technically very impressive.

Agencies like MMRDA have explored all options, taken all factors into consideration and planned ambitious projects, whether it is a sea link or metro rail. The problem is that the pace of development is slow that it is leading to despair,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman and co-founder of infrastructure consultancy firm Feedback Infrastructure.

Shobhaa De, author, columnist and a Mumbai resident, says, “We can’t speak of Mumbai in the same breath as London, Singapore or Dubai! We are resolutely in the Third World. Fifty years behind the others. Even Colombo has better expressways!”

A 2012 study conducted by global consultant Mercer on quality of living in Asia-Pacific ranked Mumbai 134 among 221 cities, Mumbai, however, was ahead of other Indian cities surveyed. But many experts believe other cities are beginning to race ahead.

While Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and even cities like Ahmedabad and Jaipur are adding new transport infrastructure, several mega projects in Mumbai haven’t moved beyond the blueprints. Some projects like the Rs 2,500-crore Mumbai Metro Line 1, and the Rs 2,500-crore Monorail projects faced hiccups due to delay in environment clearances, relocation of religious structures and issues relating to right of way, are nearing completion now. But the second phase of metro rail, extension of Bandra-Worli Sealink, new routes of monorail, Navi Mumbai international airport and the ambitious Mumbai trans-harbour link project which are critical to reduce the pressure on the city’s existing infrastructure have not taken off.

“Mumbai lacks the political push that’s needed for these projects, while the government and state agencies in other cities are collectively working on clearing logjam on the ground so that they can expedite infrastructure projects,” Chatterjee said.

Metro Line 1 took seven years before trial runs began in May this year. In contrast, Jaipur’s metro project, helped by the Delhi Metro, took only three years.

“It is not easy to build infra projects in Mumbai. The city is very dense. There are issues like litigation that causes delays. These delays have resulted in huge cost escalation and now many problems have been created because of this,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said last month. Indeed, Mumbai has its own problems.

Mumbai lags behind other Indian cities in infrastructure

The trans-harbour link project didn’t get any bids as developers had concerns over the financial viability of the project. The second phase of metro faces termination due to disputes between the state and Reliance Infrastructure. “The developer in Metro I project is asking for a major hike in tariff and advertising rights. We are not sure how this will work out. One option is to go into arbitration and the other is to negotiate. If it gets worse, we may think of even taking over the metro project. It is now clear that Mumbai’s Metro II project will not happen now,” Chavan said.

Experts say Mumbai faces a bigger challenge of bureaucracy, land acquisition and approvals than other cities because often there are conflicting views from within the government. A senior executive from an infrastructure conglomerate says, “For the ruling political parties, Mumbai is very strategic and important and often the two parties have different views on infrastructure projects. As a result the project suffers”. Another infrastructure executive says, “Sometimes we wonder if MMRDA and BMC work for the same city!”

The Congress-NCP government, which has ruled Maharashtra for three terms now, have often been at loggerheads over several projects in the past, some of which have eventually been scrapped. For instance, a feud between the NCP-led Public Works Department and the MMRDA and Urban Development department, both of which are led by Congress, has derailed several projects, including the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, industry executives say.

“Executing a project in a congested city like Mumbai is not easy as we don’t even get the land needed to set up site office and store our construction material. Also, it is very difficult to set up labour camps near the site,” said a senior executive heading a big infrastructure project. “We have even faced problems relating to migrant labours who are now choosing to work in other cities, which are affordable and where they don’t face discrimination.”

But Chavan believes that private players are shying away from projects in Mumbai, primarily because of the “economic slowdown and the lack of confidence among private players…We may be facing a difficult situation for some time to come but it is our attempt to instil a sense of confidence among the private players,” he said. Chatterjee of Feedback Ventures suggests that Mumbai needs to be developed on similar lines as Manhattan, the island city where the business hub is connected to the satellite cities through bridges, rail and road. “Mumbai needs a network of metro, elevated rail and bridges connecting the hinterland to the city so that the population spreads out evenly and eases the pressure on the city’s infrastructure.”

Manhattan or Shanghai may be a distant dream. Given how Mumbai is losing time, it may be left behind other Indian cities if new infrastructure projects don’t move on from blueprints to reality.



​Dharavi-to-sea link bypass to beat jams

October 9, 2013

Manthan K Mehta, TNN |

MUMBAI: In a relief for thousands of motorists who get stuck in traffic at Kalanagar junction in Bandra (east) every day, the city’s development planning agency has hit upon an out-of-the-box solution.The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has proposed to build a two-lane bypass over PWD land to connect traffic from Dharavi T-junction to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link approach road for faster dispersal of vehicles. It will soon submit the proposal to the public works department for approval.

“The bypass is being proposed on the land where the PWD offices are located. Enough space can be created on this portion of the land to build the road,” said a senior MMRDA official. As the land belongs to a government agency, the MMRDA does not anticipate any hurdle in acquiring the land to build the bypass road.

For the last few years, the MMRDA has been struggling to reduce traffic snarls at Kalanagar junction—one of the busiest intersections in the city. It connects the island city to both the western suburbs and the eastern suburbs via the Sion-Dharavi Road. As a short-term measure, MMRDA has also decided to implement, albeit partially, suggestions mooted by the Mumbai Environmental Social Network (MESN) to ease traffic congestion at Kalanagar junction.

“The median on the Western Express Highway at Kalanagar will be pushed back slightly. Vehicles coming from the sea link direction can directly drive to Bandra-Kurla Complex. At present, these vehicles have to take a sharp U-turn below the flyover to come on to the Sion-Dharavi Road and then take a left turn to enter BKC,” said the senior MMRDA official.

Also, the width of the two bus stops will be reduced thus, creating an additional lane for a bus-bay. “This will ensure that BEST buses halting at these stops will not block the traffic coming toward Dharavi T-junction from the northern direction,” said the official. “The other solution to cover the drains along the north-bound carriageway of the Western Express Highway (WEH) is not being undertaken yet as this will require the municipal corporation’s approval.” Civic officials may disapprove this plan as they would prefer the drains to remain accessible to ensure regular cleaning.

SoBo skywalk to miss deadline

June 18, 2013

Saurabh Katkurwar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, June 17, 2013

 The city’s most expensive skywalk, which is being constructed at Nana Chowk, has been delayed till August due to unfinished work pertaining to escalators and staircases. According to the latest deadline, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Ltd (MSRDC) was supposed to open the 510-meter skywalk to the public in mid-June.


“Due to monsoon, some of the skywalk work is delayed. The remaining work is expected to finish in a month. The skywalk will be made open to people in August,” said MSRDC managing director Bipin Shrimali.

The original cost of the project was Rs39 crore when work commenced way back in 2008. As per the original deadline, the skywalk was supposed to be ready in June 2009. The cost has now escalated to Rs50.48 crore due to the four-year delay.

The oval-shaped skywalk, which is supported by 16 stress cables suspended from a central tower located at Nana Chowk, has three escalators and four staircases for its different arms. The MSRDC is yet to finish construction of these escalators and staircases.

“We are left with some work pertaining to escalators and elevators, which will be completed soon. In addition, finishing touches are being given to the skywalk,” said MSRDC chief engineer Subhash Nage.

Although the MSRDC claims that the skywalk will witness about 50,000 pedestrians daily, transport experts refute their claim. Transport expert Ajit Shenoy said: “The staircases and escalators have been built at the wrong locations — they are not in the direction of pedestrian flow. So commuters will not prefer to take the skywalk.”


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