Maharashtra may approach Centre, World Bank over Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project

August 14, 2013

Clara Lewis, TNN |


MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is considering four options for constructing the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) after the latest round of bidding failed to elicit interest from construction firms.


The MTHL is a 22-km sea link between Nhava and Sewri that will connect Mumbai to the hinterland and offer a quick getaway to Pune, Nashik and Goa.


The four options under consideration include a direct cash contract wherein the government foots the bill; the developer constructs the sea link and is paid back in annual installments; taking up the project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) where the Centre will bear 35% of the cost, the state government 15% and the implementing agency (MMRDA) will bear 50% of the cost; and approaching either the World Bank or the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a loan on the lines of the loan for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project.


Senior MMRDA officials said within a month the proposals will be placed before chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also heads MMRDA.


The project was proposed in the 70s. However, the first serious attempt to build the bridge was made in 2008 but it fell through because of a dispute between the Ambani brothers. For the third time the government failed to get any bids for the bridge.


The project was to be developed on a build-operate-transfer basis in which the developer was to quote a price with interest, which he would recover in 35 years after building the link over five years. To address some of its financial risks, the Union finance ministry has sanctioned viability-gap funding to the tune of Rs 1,920 crore for the project.


A source said one of the reasons that no bid was made for the project was the uncertainty over the proposed international airport in Panvel. “If the airport does not take off then the projected 60,000 vehicles traversing the bridge daily will also not happen which makes the project will become unviable,” said a source.


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