Mumbai University gives way for better connectivity at BKC

October 26, 2016

MMRDA draws up elaborate plan to ease traffic movement around the business district

MMRDA draws up elaborate plan to ease traffic movement around the business district


The University of Mumbai has decided to hand over 34,715 sq. meters of land to Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) which will be used for de-congesting the area around the important business district of the city – the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). MMRDA will be constructing a 1.2-km long elevated road with 2+2 lanes from Bharat Diamond Bourse Junction in BKC to Vakola Junction near Western Express Highway (WEH). For the purpose, Mumbai University will hand over a land measuring18,834 sq. meters to MMRDA.

MMRDA will construct a 400-m long and 30-m wide road in the vicinity of Mumbai University for additional connectivity from BKC to Santa Cruz Link Road (SCLR). For the purpose, Mumbai University will hand over a piece of land measuring 15,881 sq. meters to MMRDA.

The transfer and development (TDR), generated after handing over of the land to MMRDA, will be sold and used for the overall development of Mumbai University which will include construction of hostels, staff quarters, guest houses, science block, etc. in an area of 3 lakh sq. meters approximately.

A joint statement was issued by UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA and Sanjay Deshmukh, Vice Chancellor, Mumbai University on the issue. The statement said, MMRDA, in its pursuit to provide better connectivity to ever developing BKC, is constructing a few flyovers such as the one from Bandra-Worli Sea Link to BKC, which is aimed at providing signal-free traffic from the Sea Link (from the Mahim Causeway side) all the way up to BKC, and a similar one from BKC to Sea Link.

“In addition, there will be a road on stilts from Kalanagar towards Sea Link, which will cater to the traffic from Sion/Dharavi,” the statement said. The estimated cost of the work will be  Rs 253 crore.

Mumbai’s ambitious coastal road project set to take off

October 13, 2016

Coastal roads, like this one in Andheri, reduce traffic congestion in the Island City

Coastal roads, like this one in Andheri, help reduce traffic congestion in the Island City

The Rs 11,000-12,000 crore coastal road, linking south Mumbai and Kandivali in the northern suburbs, will only be partially free for users – from Marine Drive only up till Bandra – after which the rest of the road will be constructed as a sea link on which users will have to pay a toll.
While the south Mumbai stretch up to Bandra will be constructed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), the stretch between Bandra and Versova will likely be constructed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).

The cost of the sea link is pegged at Rs 7,500 crore. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a meeting, had given instructions for MSRDC to go ahead with constructing the Bandra-Versova sea link, the minutes of which were officially communicated to MSRDC. According to the same, MCGM has been instructed to buy the balance concession period of the Bandra-Worli sea link (constructed by MSRDC) till 2040. As per the cash flows of the Bandra-Worli sea link project, MSRDC has asked MCGM to pay Rs 2,800 crore, based on their book of accounts of the Bandra-Worli sea link. This amount will be the equity of MSRDC towards the project cost of the Bandra-Versova sea link. MSRDC VC and MD, Radheshyam Mopalwar said, “The balance cost of the project will be raised by MSRDC as a loan either by way of vanilla bank loans or as bonds as per our consultants’ advice.”

MCGM sources said they have received a letter from MSRDC to this effect saying that the latter would be constructing the sea link. However, the civic body is not believed to be keen on this alternative as they have already incurred a cost on preparing the detailed project report (DPR) for the entire length of the coastal road, as envisaged earlier.

Mopalwar added that MSRDC already has the coastal authorities’ clearance for constructing a sea-link all the way from Nariman Point to Versova and which is valid till 2018. He also said MSRDC has a tender-ready detailed project report (DPR) for the Bandra-Versova sea link.

Meanwhile, MCGM has Rs 8,000 crore stashed in the bank and expects to garner another Rs 3,000 crore by the end of the year for the project. Sanjay Mukherjee, additional municipal commissioner (Projects), MCGM, said that around Rs 3,000 crore would come from the collections of the proposal to make FSI (floor space index) fungible for the city.

The MCGM charges builders a premium for fungible FSI on all real estate development. “In a sense, we are recovering the cost of construction from prospective users,” Mukherjee explained.

He said MCGM would initially develop the stretch between south Mumbai and Bandra and which has been divided into three packages. A total of 46 companies, foreign and Indian, have responded to the expression of interest (EOI) document floated by it, Mukherjee said. He added that once this was finalized, the request for qualification documents (RFQ) would be floated and subsequently, the shortlisted companies would make it to the request for proposals (RFP) stage.

As per MCGM’s original DPR, the coastal road project was divided into seven parts, three in the south and four in the north with a total of 11 interchanges to help reduce traffic.

The 29.2-km long road was to have a dedicated bus rapid transit system (BRTS) running from south Mumbai to Kandivali, the first of its kind in Mumbai. A provision has also been made in the DPR for a high speed electric train (HSE) track in the middle of the road with a 13-metre wide median that can be used to develop the tracks later if required.

Around 40 hectares of green spaces is to be be created along the road with gardens, parks, jogging and cycling tracks and other civic amenities. Frischmann Prabhu has already been appointed as a consultant and another general consultant too will be roped in.

The postmodern alteration of the BKC

August 29, 2016




From swamp to swank, the transformation of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is fast nearing completion. Now dotted with high-rises and a flurry of (still) ongoing construction activity, these are starkly juxtaposed with adjoining slums and remaining marshland. Not for much longer. If the planning authority for the area – the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) – has its way, it will soon auction another plot of land measuring 12,500 square metres for more development (currently there is a ban on all new construction in the city by the Bombay High Court). Meanwhile, three ambitious elevated road projects as well as two flyovers have been planned to improve connectivity. Construction is already underway for some of these.
“Moreover, with the second and third metro lines planned for Mumbai, we are looking at the possibility of getting these two lines to intersect at BKC. This will be an underground station. That would make BKC accessible from almost all areas of Mumbai as well as improve last-mile connectivity to BKC,” UPS Madan, MMRDA metropolitan commissioner, said in a press conference. It’s just as well. On the drawing-board for decades, all of these projects need speeding up. Otherwise, says Ramesh Nair, COO, at property consultant JLL India, “BKC will lose its attractiveness. With all the modern construction there today, a new building of a million and a half square feet means 15,000 more people coming into the area in cars, trains and buses. The government has to fast-track these infrastructure connectivity projects,” says Nair.

Meanwhile, aware of the transport bottlenecks and the lack of last-mile connectivity to BKC, it is the property developers in the area who have come up with a novel solution. Radius Developers’ ONE BKC which houses companies such as Bank of America and Brookfield, among a host of other blue-chip companies, has tied up with Mumbai’s BEST buses to ferry all workers in the building in air-conditioned buses at specified, regular intervals from nearby railway stations to the office and back, both morning and evening. “Until the time we can compare ourselves to Shanghai or to Hong Kong, all these investments have to be made,” says Ashish Shah, COO, Radius Developers.

With so much happening, Madan is cognizant of the need to alter regulation to allow for residential development. In fact, rules have just been amended to allow residential development in up to 30% area of a commercial plot. “There is a need for mixed use also,” says Madan. “In a residential plot, we will permit commercial activity in the first two floors such as shopping, restaurants and showrooms that blend well with the gentry and make it a lively place 24*7, rather than between only 9 am and 6 pm, which is the situation currently. At night, on holidays and weekends, there should be something happening. That’s the whole idea.”

All this has prompted property developers to keep a hawk’s eye on the situation. Driven by the high-grade, white-collar demand, Himanshu Kanakia of Kanakia Group says he is looking to build more residential projects and will make a bid when MMRDA auctions more land. TEN BKC by Radius Developers and Rustomjee Seasons by Rustomjee, on the fringes of the business district, both under construction, boast a client’s list that reads like a veritable who’s who of the corporate and the financial world. With the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) envisaged to come up here, it’s no wonder corporate head honchos are settling in for the long haul. Managing directors, CEOs, partners and principals at top private equity firms, vice presidents and country heads have all purchased apartments in these modish complexes.

With well-laid out social infrastructure already in place – clubs, hospitals, hotels, schools – the positioning is such that one would not need to leave BKC, says Nikhil Bhatia, MD, Capital Markets and Head, Western Region, CBRE South Asia. “This is a micro-market that is becoming increasingly very self-contained. I think this is going to be a global financial hub equivalent to anything we have seen in Asia. BKC 2020 is going to have a very different look and feel to it.”

IIT-B’s techfest hosts Smart City Challenge

October 1, 2014

The permier technology institute has taken inspiration from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of building 100 new Smart Cities across the country. Gauri Rane reports

Each year, IIT-B’s Techfest focuses on development of the society through its various initiatives. This year’s theme of the annual national technology festival is to develop smart cities under the initiative — Smart City Challenge. “The motive of the competition, is to make our countrymen aware of the importance of using renewable energy sources and live in an eco-friendly environment,” says Yash Mehta, core team member, Techfest 2015. It is a brainchild of Vaibhav Kore, a core team member of the fest. “But instead of inviting ideas to design a new smart city, we thought of getting ideas/solutions to solve the problems that already exist in our cities and make them smarter and efficient,” explains Mehta.

Core members of the fest have given a multi-pronged approach to the challenge. They have come up with genres like healthcare and hygiene, trade and commerce, law and policy making and urban aesthetics along with infrastructure to develop the cities. Since all these fields are interconnected, the competition is open to students (undergraduate and postgraduate) from all streams like engineering, architecture, management, commerce, arts and design.

Over 800 teams have registered till now. In the first phase of the challenge participants have sent a report as per the problem statements in each of the above mentioned five genres. “They have to design models and  sketches along with a powerpoint presentation at the end of the second round explaining what changes will their solutions bring to the current scenario and how impactful they would prove to be,” informs Mehta. The best entries will then qualify to the second round where mentors, who are experts from different fields will provide guidance on how to shape the ideas and develop them to the implementation level. The expert panel of over 50 mentors consists of IPS officers, IIT professors, corporate professionals and eminent government officers. “Getting a chance to interact with high-profile mentors is in itself a big incentive to the participants,” reflects Mehta.

Besides the prize money of Rs 5 lakhs for winners, another incentive to the participants is that, their ideas will be considered by the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC). They will also have the opportunity to pursue summer internship at its different associated organisations.

The organising committee plans to take this initiative forward by way of collaboration with other government organisations like Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), City and Industrial development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO). They have also approached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Urban Development Ministry of the Government of India, Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) and Urban Development Department of the Government of Maharashtra for their consideration of the event. “We have also contacted the administration of Varanasi and expressed our willingness to contribute to the development of Smart and Spiritual Varanasi in light of the pact signed between India and Japan recently,” informs Mehta.




October 1, 2014

Autodesk, Inc., unveiled its prowess in digital city technology by showcasing a 3D Smart City model of Mumbai, at Autodesk University India & SAARC, 2014. A digital city provides a way for the public, city government, construction communities to combine mapping, building, civil engineering, and utility information into an accurate city model that can be used to simulate the future impact of decisions at a city-wide scale.
The 3D smart city model of Mumbai that was unveiled at Autodesk University 2014, is an intelligent projection of the possibilities that the city has in terms of becoming a smart city.
• The model covers around 40% Mumbai
data comprising of South Mumbai and Bandra area
• The data also includes data related to scenario of Metro Line 3, and iconic structures.
• For developers, architects, urban planners and city officials, there is nothing quite like a scale model of your city to gain new insights into your surrounds.
• Projects related to urbanisation in the PPP mode are a function of time, money and approval. A 3D digital model, by helping in the levels of detailing, helps minimise speculation.
Sunil MK, head, AEC, Autodesk India, said, “While the world has woken up to the importance of Smart Cities, India has shown utmost promise with the government planning to establish 100 Smart cities. Our Digital City technology provides a comprehensive approach to create a sustainable city that balances economic and engineering demands with environmental and social needs.”

‘Smart homes can be as popular as smart phones in India’

September 27, 2014

The new buzz word in town is ‘Smart’, from smart homes to smart cities. Most of us have idealised this concept and while much of the Indian public is receptive to the idea, it is still an emerging concept and there are doubts amidst enthusiasm as to whether this concept is here to stay. In a conversation with Vishal Dhar, co-founder and president, marketing at iYogi, Magicbricks attempts to arrive at the feasibility of smart homes in India-

Smart Homes to capture a sizeable market share

Smart Homes are all about creating a better experience for home owners resulting in a home that’s secure, energy efficient and easier to manage. This would improve the overall quality of life. Each of these is an important issue for Indian home owners and therefore smart homes are definitely needed, and their adoption across different categories will grow. Majority (8 out of 10) of developers have expressed a keen interest in adding Smart Homes to their portfolio in the near future.

 Smart Homes and pricing in the wake of Housing for All and affordability

Today, having a smart home costs between 5 and 10 per cent of the construction cost – which is what makes it prohibitive and a dream for most people. New-age technology has made it possible for smart home solutions to fit any pocket or home size.  For instance today, dedicated companies can help real estate developers create a smart home for as little as 1 per cent of the total construction cost. As awareness and demand for smart homes increases, the economics will make sense and costs will come down further.

Smart homes more than just hype

The popularity of any product or category is dependent on different factors. The first is its value for target users, combined with availability and price. Today, Android and Windows phones are available across price points, leading to the huge adoption of smart phones. Not just that, it is also the interesting applications that are being developed keeping different user needs in mind. Home automation systems will pick up steam as more locally relevant applications and use cases are developed and more vendors start innovating and creating interesting products at different price points. This, along with a concerted effort to create greater awareness about the benefits of Smart Homes, will ensure that Smart Homes become as popular as smart phones at some point in the future.

 India is ready for smart homes

Connected homes are no longer a futuristic concept. Cross-device compatibility, wireless connectivity, voice commands, smart monitoring are a few common features found in today’s Smart Home appliances including refrigerators, washing machines, ACs and home security systems. Technology adoption in India is growing at a fast pace and Smart Homes will not be left behind. In fact, according to the International Data Corporation, India is currently among the fastest growing smart phone markets in Asia Pacific and has seen a 31 per cent sales growth in the first quarter of 2014, even higher than China. So in a way, technological dependence is already here.

With a growing middle class, rise in disposable incomes and growth of nuclear families, Indians are willing to spend extra for safety, security, comfort and style and it is only a matter of time before home automation systems also become common.


Source:Magic Bricks

Toll exemption planned for Kamothe locals, govt fears backlash from others

September 10, 2014

MUMBAI: The government plans to exempt local residents from paying toll at the plaza that has just come up at Kamothe on the Sion-Panvel Highway. This is probably for the first time that such a move is being contemplated in the state, though the government fears that it could lead to a clamour for similar exemptions from people living near other toll posts in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Since the assembly polls are near, the ruling Congresss-NCP combine want to avoid controversies.

The residents of Panvel, Kamothe, Khanda Colony, Kalamboli and nearby areas, who commute daily to Mumbai and Thane via Airoli, want the Kamothe toll post to be removed or their vehicles to be exempted from paying toll. The Vashi and Kamothe posts charge Rs 30 each for a one-way journey, and the two-way total for both amounts to Rs 120 a day.

A panel led by chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya has submitted the toll exemption recommendation for Kamothe locals to the government for chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s approval. The panel was set up by the CM following
an agitation by local residents led by legislator Prashant

A source said the CM may prefer to buy time. Around eight lakh people live around the other five toll posts on Mumbai’s entry points, and the government fears that covering all of them before the polls will be a headache.

The toll policy that was approved by the state recently has allowed monthly passes for those living in a 5km periphery of a toll post, the rate being 10 times the one-way toll charge. Thus, each motorist living close to a toll naka needs to pay Rs 300 a month.

If the Vashi toll post is taken into consideration, the monthly payment for a motorist living in Panvel to enter Mumbai would amount to Rs 3,600 once the Kamothe post starts operating.

Source:Times of India

Wetlands being reclaimed for realty projects and parking lots: Maharashtra forest dept

July 30, 2014

Mumbai: The wetlands in the coastal belts around Mumbai are being killed to make way for development, the Maharashtra forest department has told the Bombay high court.The court, while hearing a PIL by NGO Vanashakti in March, had banned all development on wetlands and instructed chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell) N Vasudevan to inspect the eight sites where the PIL said wetlands are being ruined. Vasudevan’s damning report, submitted last week, confirmed the continuing destruction despite the ban: the ecologically-significant wetlands around Mumbai are being reclaimed for parking lots and real estate projects.

In Dive-Anjur village, a 1.5-km-long road (with 22m width and 7m height) has been laid on the wetland off the busy Thane-Bhiwandi Road, cutting off the flow of tidal water to 300 hectares of wetlands. “It is noticeable from the highway and shows the audacity of the perpetrators of this environmental outrage. Real estate developers have already put up signboards announcing their intention to take up building projects,” states the report. In Mumbra “the scale of destruction is outrageous,” the report says, pointing out that reclamation of nearly 20 hectares of wetlands by multiple agencies is currently underway.

Vasudevan’s team visited eight sites at Dahisar Link Road, Bhuigaon village in Vasai taluka, Owala village in Bhayander, Ghodbunder Road, Dive-Anjur village, Diva village and Diva Sabegaon village, Vikhroli-Mulund Road and Targhar village in Uran.

At Dahisar Link Road, close to the slum Ganpat Patil Nagar that is settled on a CRZ area, the wetland abutting the road has been reclaimed and converted into a parking lot for private tourist vehicles. When the court-appointed team visited the site, illegal sand mining was in full swing. Scores of trucks were lined up to transport the loot away and the water from the wetland was being drained using diesel pumps.

At Targhar village in Uran, the team discovered reclamation of the privately-owned wetland being carried out despite the HC ban. The owners told the team that they wanted to develop garages, container godowns and parking lots on the site.

At Diva village, a 4-hectare site was first ravaged by sand mining. Then to fill the pit the Thane municipal corporation converted it into a dumping ground. And now the soil is being filled and the land levelled for other purposes, said the report. Similarly, at Diva-Sabegaon village, the wetland has been become the site of waste-dumping and construction of slums and chawls. Near Owala village, a 6-storey residential building has come up on the wetland. A housing finance company is offering loans for 1BHK flats, which are being sold for Rs 35 lakh, and 2BHK flats, which cost Rs 50 lakh.

Vasudevan points out in the report that wetlands are of tremendous ecological significance. They are rich repositories of bio-diversity and storehouses of water.

Source:Times of India

New CCTV tech to record number plates at 5 spots

July 30, 2014

MUMBAI: The traffic police intends to slow down speedsters in the city with advanced cameras which will be equipped with the ability to read number plates of vehicles. Traffic police have identified dangerous stretches in the city that are used for speeding or racing and have written to the agencies concerned to install cameras equipped with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) technology.

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) is likely to get the technology by the end of this year. The other locations identified for the advanced cameras are Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Godrej Junction at Vikhroli, Marine Drive and JJ flyover in south Mumbai.

ANPR rules out manual intervention and is used in most developed countries to detect traffic violations. “We conducted a study of locations across the city where cameras equipped with ANPR are becoming a necessity. Godrej Junction at Vikhroli is a cause of concern due to maximum fatalities. We have been in talks with a company to join hands with the agency which maintains the stretch,” said Quaiser Khalid, additional commissioner (traffic).

Instances of speeding are witnessed frequently on the iconic BWSL. “Motorists tend to speed after reaching the centre of the bridge. In September last year, a 54-year-old businessman from Kemps Corner had a narrow escape when his car hit the divider and turned turtle. It disrupted traffic for over half an hour,” said a traffic police official.

“A work order has been given out for cameras equipped with ANPR technology and they should be installed by the end of this year. One lane going towards Bandra and the other towards Worli will be fitted with the cameras. They will be positioned in such a manner that they cover maximum lanes. We have also asked for data on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to study the feasibility of having advanced cameras there,” said a senior MSRDC official.

Two-wheelers are banned on both the BWSL and JJ Flyover. “Between 2002 and 2010, JJ Flyover witnessed 254 accidents, among which 183 involved two-wheelers. Of the 33 people killed in this period, 31 were motorcyclists. This prompted the ban but motorcyclists tend to flout it at night when traffic personnel aren’t around,” said a traffic official. “Several instances of racing were observed at BKC, a business district deserted after office hours,” he added.

ANPR technology uses optical character recognition on images for reading vehicle registration plates. Some can even be configured to store a photograph of the motorist. The information will be stored at the traffic police headquarters and using the RTO’s database, challans will be sent to the speeding motorist’s address. Earlier this month, the MMRDA announced plans to install 12 ANPR-equipped CCTVs on the Eastern Freeway.

Source:Times of India

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.



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