In what can be termed as a major setback to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), none of the five bidders submitted their bids for the ambitious Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) link project connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva.
MMRDA has now said that it will send a fresh proposal to the government to seek permission to construct the bridge on cash contract model with its funds.
Speaking to MiD DAY MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan said, "It is really sad that none of the bidders have submitted the bids for MTHL but we are very much interested in taking up the project and so we will sent a fresh proposal to the state government seeking permission to construct the bridge on cash-contract model."
It should be noted that MMRDA had earlier extended the bid submission date for the project thrice as some of the companies had asked MMRDA more time for submission, However, despite this the bidders did not summit the bids.
When questioned on what could be the reason, Madan said, "I really don't know the exact reason but I believe that the bidders feel that this was not the right time. Looking at the present market conditions and so they might have not submitted the bids."
Sources from MMRDA told this newspaper that the main reason for not submitting the bids was the bad market conditions and the projection of vehicles that will take the bridge. "We had estimated that around 48000 vehicles will use the bridge once complete but some of the bidders had a doubt that it will be less than 30000 and so they gave this as one of the reason for not submitting the bids." Added the official.
Sources also say that MMRDA might seek help from World Bank or even Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for financial assistance. "Already the World Bank is interested in investing in urban infrastructure projects and so we have option of taking financial support from them. JICA is already funding the underground metro line three between Colaba Bandra Seepz and so they might also be interested in funding the MTHL."
While senior MMRDA officials claim that the project will be delayed by six months, the sources within MMRDA pointed out that with election year approaching, the decision might get delayed and the project will at least take more than 18 months to see the light of the day.
It should be noted that MMRDA has short listed 5 consortia namely M/s. CINTRA - SOMA -SREI, M/s. Gammon-OHL Concessions-G.S. Engineering, M/s. GMR-L & T Ltd-Samsung, M/s.IRB-Hyundai and M/s.Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited-Autostrade-Vinci Concessions for MTHL project and
the last day for the submission of bids is August 5.
However one of the bidders had backed off few days back.
MTHL, once constructed, will connect Sewri to Nhava Seva in Navi Mumbai. The link will be 22-km long with a 16.5 km long bridge across Mumbai harbour, and 5.5 km-long viaduct approaches on the Sewri and Nhava Seva sides. The project is being touted as the country's longest sea bridge.
The cost of the project increased from an estimated Rs 8,800 crore in 2010 to Rs 9,630 crore recently. This sharp rise was attributed to the expenditure involved in connecting the arms on the Sewri side of the MTHL.