Mantralaya fire douses two city projects

Jun 24, 2012, 09:02 IST | Shashank Rao & Saurabh Katkurwar

Thursday's incident at Mantralaya has stalled two important city projects, the Churchgate-Virar elevated rail corridor and the international airport at Navi Mumbai

The blazing fire at Mantralaya on Thursday has left five people dead and many more injured, but that is not the end of it. Repercussions of the accident are now being seen on two developmental city projects — the Rs 20,000-crore Churchgate-Virar elevated rail corridor and the international airport at Navi Mumbai.

On June 15, General manager Mahesh Kumar of Western Railway (WR) had announced at a conference that the state support agreement (SSA) was expected within the next eight to 10 days. He had confirmed that the top officials of the Indian Railways had stated that the State government would provide the necessary permissions as part of the SSA.

The SSA would allow the WR to get all the necessary clearances, including procuring land for the elevated corridor, shifting of underground utilities, relief and rehabilitation of people and structures. “We have our set of updated information on files and meetings. However, we do not have copies of the paper work that the government has prepared and there are chances that they may have been gutted in the fire,” a WR official said, on condition of anonymity.

Without the SSA, the WR authorities cannot invite global tenders for the construction of the elevated underground rail project. “We are pretty sure that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been updated on the SSA progress,” an official said, on condition of anonymity.

“If we are asked to furnish a copy of the Churchgate-Virar elevated rail project, we will do it,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR.

The project was to begin by the end of 2012.

Airport on hold
The construction of the International Airport at Navi Mumbai, too, is likely to face a delay after Thursday’s fire. The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd. (CIDCO) have been waiting to obtain forest clearance from the State Forest Department for the land where the airport will be developed.

Officials had been waiting for the clearance since a year and unfortunately, just two weeks before the clearance was to be sanctioned, the Mantralaya fire, once again, delayed it. Fortunately, for CIDCO, most of the Forest Department’s administrative work is carried out from the Nagpur headquarters.

“We are coordinating with the forest officials in Nagpur, hoping that the necessary files are with them. But all final clearances come from their department at Mantralaya. So we anticipate a further delay in clearance. Consequently, the construction will also be delayed,” said a CIDCO official, on condition on anonymity.  

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