China willing to fund, build trans-harbour link: Fadnavis

CM Devendra Fadnavis, who came back from his China visit on Tuesday, said the neighbouring country’s infrastructure arm had assured him it could build the Sewri-Nhava Sheva link in 3-4 years; he also said the state would prefer working with the Chinese more than the Japanese as they take faster decisions

The Chinese government may finance and build the Sewri-Nhava Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL), which has been in the pipeline for nearly 20 years and will connect the island city with the mainland.

One of the photos posted by the CM when he was in China. The trans-harbour link will be 22 km long
One of the photos posted by the CM when he was in China. The trans-harbour link will be 22 km long

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who returned to the city on Tuesday from his five-day trip to China as part of PM Narendra Modi’s delegation, said yesterday that the Chinese government-owned infrastructure agency has assured him that it would complete the big-ticket infrastructure project in three to four years and also provide funding for it.

He said the Chinese firm was also interested in other infrastructure projects in the state. The CM also said that while the Japanese funding agencies had already expressed their interest in providing capital for MTHL, the state would prefer the Chinese because they make decisions faster.

Credentials
“The Chinese government’s infrastructure agency has built a 42-km trans-harbour link in three-and-a-half years. It has assured us that it can build MTHL in three-four years,” Fadnavis said at a meet-the-press event in Mantralaya to mark the BJP-Shiv Sena government’s six months in office.

He said the Chinese government was also willing to fund the project at an affordable interest rate of 2-4 per cent and added that the state would seek similar funding from them for other major projects like the Metro.

According to Fadnavis, Japanese funding agencies were also willing to fund infrastructure projects in the state, but the government would not prefer them because they do not take decisions as quickly as the Chinese. He said that the Chinese were interested in setting up manufacturing facilities and investing in building bridges, sea-links, roads and power-generation plants in the state.

“China has a big surplus (of funds) and it wants to invest money in countries like India and states like Maharashtra, where they have access to trained manpower and an investment-friendly atmosphere,” the CM said.

In limbo
Attempts had been made to begin constructing the MTHL, which was conceived in 1970 and approved by the state government in 1996, in 2005 and 2008. However, poor planning and implementation had led to the failure of the tendering process.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is the new promoter of the 22-km, six-lane project, replacing the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation. The initial cost of the sea link was Rs 7,600 crore, which was revised to Rs 8,300 crore by the MMRDA, which planned to add more lanes and a Metro rail corridor.

Further revisions saw the cost escalate to Rs 9,630 crore. The 22-km long bridge, of which 16.5 km will be built deep into the sea, is estimated to carry 44,975 vehicles per day when it gets completed. This estimate is for the year 2018.

Women to work night shifts
Like their counterparts in the information technology sector, women employees will soon be able to work night shifts in factories and the manufacturing industry. The state government has decided to amend the Factory Act to make this possible. The factories will have to ensure the security of the female employees who work between 7 pm and 6 am. “They will have to submit the women’s security plan in advance to the government,” said CM Fadnavis.

iPhone to be made in state?
According to CM Fadnavis, Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has shown interest in building a manufacturing facility in Maharashtra. “The company does not just want to assemble iPhones (versions 6 and beyond) here, but wants to set up the entire (manufacturing) ecosystem, in which its vendors and ancillaries will operate from the same premises. It does not want to import parts or spares to assemble here. It wants to export iPhones from Maharashtra to other countries,” said the CM. A Foxconn delegation is expected to come to Maharashtra very soon, he said.

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