With hardly a month left to go before the 2014-2015 budget is announced, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally woken up to the need of starting work on a plan for which funds were allocated back in the 2012-13 BMC budget. Work on Netaji Subhash Road, better known as Marine Drive, will finally begin next month, almost two years after funds for it were first announced.
While such delays in BMC projects are common, the civic agency’s choice in contractor is even more questionable. The contract has been bagged by M/s RPS Infra Project, which happens to be a demoted contractor on the BMC’s list. The firm was pushed down in the ranks of BMC contractors after it did faulty work in a school project back in 2009. In spite of this, the same firm was awarded a Rs 25-crore contract last year to build 15 foot over-bridges (FOB) for the BMC — work on these FOBs is still pending.
Work on the Marine Drive is expected to cause traffic snarls in the area. The work is expected to be completed in three phases. Each phase will be completed in three steps. In each step, two lanes will be built. File pic
The delay in flagging off the project has come at a considerable cost to the exchequer. Significantly, the new estimate for the project is Rs 60.06 crore, which is Rs 10 crore over the 2013-14 budget of Rs 50 crore. The cost is expected to rise once the work actually starts. The reconstruction of the 4.23-kilometre-stretch was first planned in the 2012-13 BMC budget, in which a provision of Rs 36 crore was made.
Work on Marine Drive is also expected to cause traffic snarls in the area. The work is expected to be completed in three phases. Each phase will be completed in three steps. In each step, two lanes will be built. The reconstruction is expected to be completed by January 2015.
Work will start at Tambe Chowk near Walkeshwar Road, and reach up to the NCPA on the south side in the successive phases. The contractor will be using mastic asphalt as well as cement concrete. Plans have also been made for street furniture and beautification of the divider. The BMC has also put specific demands in the contract, including those for traffic regulatory signboards and zebra crossings. A BMC officer said, requesting anonymity, “The whole plan would hamper traffic near Marine Drive, as there will be issues pertaining to VVIP movement in the city. However, the work will be done in phases, and so a lot of the issues will be curtailed. The work will go on for almost a year.”
Laxman Vhatkar, the director of BMC’s engineering services, said, “Marine Drive needed a revamp and as there were budgetary provisions, we floated a tender. The firm that bid the least amount and agreed to all our terms and conditions bagged the project. The contractor is qualified as he has submitted all the documents and has submitted the experience certificate to BMC. The cost has been estimated according to the
Nitin Shah of RPS Infra Projects said, “We were demoted only for the building category and not for roads and bridges, and so it was permissible for us to bag contracts for roads and bridges. The cost escalation came because the BMC recently decided to have the road done with mechanised mastic asphalt. Traffic would not be hampered as the work will be done in phases. We will not dig up the entire road at any point, but do the work layer by layer.”
Rs 25 crore
The value of the contract awarded last year to the same firm to build 15 foot over-bridges for the BMC, work on which is still pending
Rs 50 crore
The budget allocated for the Marine Drive project in last year’s civic budget
Rs 36 crore
The budget first allotted for the project in the 2012-13 budget
The number of phases in which the work will be completed
The number of lanes to be completed in each phase