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Business Standard

Mumbai infrastructure upgrade projects run behind schedule

Policy & regulatory hurdles and opposition from PAPs delayed implementation

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Key projects to upgrade transport in Mumbai is expected to get the much needed boost for completion without further delays  following the Pirme Minister Manmohan Singh's fresh directives.
 
A close look at major projects including metro rail, mono rail, sea link, Navi Mumbai international airport undertaken by state-run and Maharashtra State Roard Development Corporation reveals that they are already delayed due to policy and regulatory hurdles, delays in getting necessary clearances and strong opposition from the project affected persons. These projects entail a total investment of over Rs 50,000 crore.
 
The Rs 2,460 crore Mono rail project, which was to be complete in 2010 and later rescheduled for December 2012, is still under construction, The first phase of 8.8 km is now expected to throw open for passengers by August end or middle of September. The second phase of 10.74 km will be operational by August next year. The project was delayed due to delay in environment and railway clearances, relocation of religious structures and issues relating to right of way (RoW).
 
The 11.40 km Versova-Andheri-Gahtkopar fully elevated Mumbai Metro line 1 with cost of Rs 2,356 crore was scheduled to be completed by end of 2012. Recently, test run for the Versova-Azadnagar was completed and it is expected to be operational by September while the full line to be thrown open for passenger traffic by December. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is the planning authority, admits that there was delay in handing over of land, delays in permission from the Western Railways to start construction of rail over bridge and design changes.
 
Further, the foundation stone was laid by former president Pratibha Patil for the 32 km Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd   Mumbai Metro II line in August 2009 but the project development is yet to begin. Reliance Infrastructure, which had bagged the project, may get out of the project as the deadlock continues over obtaining critical project clearances. In view of lack of clarity on the allocation of alternate space for Depot land, the project may get abandoned.
 
MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawathkar told Business Standard "We are constantly pursuing with the Government of India to get the environment clearance and with Railways for its permission for blockages to carry out construction. We are waiting for the same. However, it has been MMRDA's effort to implement projects on fast track.''
 
Moreover, the Rs 8,000 crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (Seewri and Nhava Sheva) was earlier tendered in 2008 but later scrapped. Thereafter, it was re-tendered in 2009 but did not receive enough response. After three years of delay, the project was tendered third time and MMRDA has short listed five bidders. The Centre has agreed to provide Rs 1,920 crore as a viability gap funding. Transport experts have hit out against the government's indecisiveness in project implementation.
 
Nawab Malik, spokesman, Maharashtra unit of Nationalist Congress Party has demanded that the state government should come out with the status report on the ongoing infrastructure projects  in the city and in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. "The delay among other things has also been due to rigid stand taken by bureaucracy,"he noted.
 
As far as Rs 5,000 crore Worli Hasji Ali sea link project is concerned, the project is almost abandoned. The formal announcement is expected from the state government. The state-run Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation and Reliance Infrastructure, which had bagged the project, have mutually agreed to part ways. The project development could not start despite concession agreement was signed in 2010 due to change in framework post award of the bid.
 
Moreover, the much debated Navi Mumbai international airport project could not start despite the environment clearance was awarded in November 2010. Prime Minster has asked the state government to launch in 2014. The state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation has yet to acquire 450 hectare of private land as the project affected persons are insisting 35% developed land. The project cost, which was envisaged at Rs 4,766 crore way back in 1998 to handle 40 million passengers annually, has risen substantially to around Rs 14,573 crore as on date to handle 60 million passengers annually. The rise has been as high as 305.76 per cent.

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