Are sour Congress-NCP ties blocking Sea Link extension, water transport?

The quest for smoother commutes in the city has hit another roadblock, with clearance for key projects for the Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link and water transport on the western and eastern flanks of the city both pending with the state government for months. And unsurprisingly, it’s likely that politics is to blame for the delays.

Bandra Worli Sea Link
The MSRDC has decided that it will carry the project on its own shoulders, funding it with money from securitisation of preset toll from the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. File pic

Since October 2012, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRDC) has been awaiting a final go-ahead from the state government to scrap the contract awarded to the Reliance-Hyundai consortium for work on the Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link.

The state enterprise has also been waiting for the state government’s nod to award the water transport project to bidders since August last year. Both the proposals have been lying with the cabinet committee on infrastructure, which is headed by CM Prithviraj Chavan. The committee, which met just twice last year, hasn’t taken up the proposals for discussion, said an official from the MSRDC.

The official added that the delay could have been the fallout of the current sour relations between the Congress and the NCP. While Chavan belongs to the Congress, NCP man Jaydatta Kshirsagar heads the MSRDC.
Sources revealed that on Tuesday, Kshirsagar held a meeting with his party man, deputy CM Ajit Pawar, to discuss these issues.

The MSRDC, after considering the ramifications of scrapping the tender for the sea link, has decided that it can carry it on its own shoulders, funding it money obtained from securitisation of preset toll from the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. In its submission, the MSRDC had requested the government for approval to scrap the tender awarded to the Reliance-Hyundai consortium.

Convinced that it can raise Rs 1,300 crore for the first phase of Worli-Haji Ali project through securitisation, the MSRDC plans to raise funds for the second phase through bonds, in case sufficient funds are not raised through securitisation. The absence of the final nod from the infrastructure committee have brought things to a standstill in spite of an amicable settlement between the Reliance-Hyundai consortium and the MSRDC, Kshirsagar is believed to have told Ajit Pawar.

The other decision pending with the MSRDC is for clearance for the water transport project. The MSRDC, in its proposal to the government, has informed that the work for the west coast project could be given to three companies whose bids were approved as lowest. The three packages have been fixed from Nariman Point-Juhu, Bandra-Versova and Marve-Borivali.

Work on the west coast has also been divided into three packages — Ferry Wharf-Nerul, Mandwa terminal, and the elevated road from Ferry Wharf to Orange Gate. Though the quoted price for the project was Rs 356 crore, the lowest bid was received was for Rs 440.47 crore.

Citing traffic restrictions, adverse impact on the marine environment and poor access to roads as the reasons for the higher bids, MSRDC forwarded the proposal to the government for approval in August last year.
Now, Ajit Pawar is expected to take up the issue with Chavan for a swift decision. 

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