How did cost of this road go up by Rs 139 crore?

MMRDA requests its executive committee member to unearth reasons behind delay and escalation of cost in the project that was supposed to be ready in 2008

Taking a serious note of the concerns raised by city-based activists and transport experts after an RTI query filed last December revealed that the delay has resulted in cost escalation of the Santacruz- Chembur Link Road (SCLR) project by a whopping Rs 139 crore, the Mumbai Metropo-litan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) that is funding the project, has now requested its executive committee member M V Mirani to review the project and unearth the exact reasons behind the delay and cost escalation.

Never ending: The Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, which is under
construction since 2003, now costs almost Rs 255 crore. File pic

SCLR is an important arterial road connecting the Western Express Highway to the Eastern Express Highway. It is being constructed using World Bank funds under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) and was supposed to be ready way back in 2008.

Mirani to take stock
A senior MMRDA official said, "In order to get a clear picture of the main reason behind the delay and the cost escalation, we have asked M V Mirani to study the project."

When pointed out that some of the newspapers had reported that it was the government who appointed a committee under Mirani's leadership to unravel the mystery, the official said, "The government has not appointed any committee. Since he's an executive member of MMRDA, it was we who requested him to review the project."

Expensive revelation
Based on an RTI query field with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corpora-tion Limited (MSRDC), activist Anil Galgali revealed that SCLR's cost has been escalated by almost Rs 139 crore. In its reply to the query, MSRDC, the implementing body for the project, stated that the estimated project cost when the work had started in September 2009 was Rs 114.96 crore. However due to delay on various fronts, the cost escalated by a whopping Rs 139.80 crore, thus taking the total cost to Rs 254.76 crore.

The reply further revealed that the actual work on the SCLR was divided into two phases. The work on phase I that began on September 29, 2003, was expected to be complete by November 28, 2004. While Work on phase II that commenced on May 10, 2004, was supposed to be completed by September 9, 2006.

If sources from within the MMRDA are to be believed, then primary reasons behind the delay and cost escalations are the Resettlement and Rehabilitation issue of the Project Affected People, and pending permission from railways for constructing a bridge passing over railway lines.

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