With conditional go-aheads from the Forest Advisory Committee and soil re-testing planned, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) is top priority for Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis
The Fadnavis government has put the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) in fast track mode, as was indicated by the Chief Minister’s tweet on Saturday: "And as per our commitment, we are also in the process to float the tender for the same by March 2016." Fadnavis also did his bit in tweeting an acknowledgement to Narendra Modi for "the impact of Hon @narendramodi ji’s VC and one such example is when we got clearances for MTHL."
The Sewri mudflats, near the spot where the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link is supposed to come up
The Link, which will connect Sewri in Mumbai with Nhava Sheva near Navi Mumbai, draws support from the conditional clearance by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and impending fresh soil testing by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that is being carried out to understand the strength and design of the future pillars.
Earlier in December 2015, Fadnavis had stated, "The project has been in the planning stage for more than 20-25 years without seeing any development. But within one year we have received all the crucial permissions for the project. Soon, the final notification for the project and the financial closure with JICA will be done and by March, we will float tenders for the project and by 2019 the project would be ready." In April, the MoEF’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) had withheld the clearance that was given to MTHL as the said project is affecting the present mangroves and flamingoes in the area. The committee has asked the Maharashtra government to submit a study report that mentions the impact the project will have. However, later a committee was appointed and the state government said it would take measures to protect flamingoes and their habitat.
The FAC cleared the project under conditions, such as rehabilitation of tribals near the mangrove forests. The city collector will conduct the tribal survey and MMRDA will submit the final application to MoEF. An MMRDA official stated, "We are expecting the final clearance in 7-10 days."
The JICA, which is funding the Rs 12,000 crore project, has asked the planning authority to carry out fresh soil testing at Sewri and Nhava Sheva to understand the soil quality below the surface. It is said that this exercise would help in making the foundation of the pillars stronger. MMRDA Chief Engineer Prakash Mamdapure said, "We have invited the tenders for soil testing (geotechnical survey) work as JICA has asked us to redo the work of soil testing along the locations on MTHL alignment. The work of soil testing would start by February." MMRDA had earlier also done the soil testing for the MTHL but it has to do the test from scratch as the earlier boring was not done enough.
Accurate data about the surface below the water and rock structures will be crucial during the construction period as based on the survey report, the companies that would show interest in constructing the project can have proper machinery in place that is capable of carrying out the challenging work.