10 years later, CM asks MSRDC to hurry up on coastal transport project

The state had sanctioned the project in 2002, but aborted tenders delayed it, escalating cost by 900 crore; Chavan has now set a 2-month deadline for report submission; nodal agency MSRDC has in turn submitted a nine-point query 

In February 2002, the state government first issued a Government Resolution, promising to develop state-of-the-art transport facilities along the western coast of Mumbai. Ten years have passed, and the envisioned project has not budged an inch towards completion. A slew of file submissions, project reports and presentations have kept the project firmly entangled in a bureaucratic quagmire, with its projected cost escalating from the original Rs 300 crore to Rs 1,200 crore over the years.

No shore in sight: The delayed coastal transport project was aimed at
constructing jetties, which would allow Mumbaikars another means of
transportation, and make commutes to South Mumbai breezier.


The project which had boldly promised to make give Mumbaikars an alternative conveyance option other than trains and buses, got a new lease of life on Monday, with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asking the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to submit a comprehensive report on its status within two months.

At a high-level meeting in Mantralaya, Chavan directed three development bodies involved in the project in various degrees -- the MSRDC, MMRDA and CIDCO -- to treat each planned jetty as a separate project, and report to him on different modalities -- the cost, feasibility, terms for the use, capacity, and estimated passenger fare for each jetty. 

According to reports, the MSRDC had floated tenders three times to rope in builders in the past 10 years, but each attempt failed. The deadline for the last tendering process lapsed on June 21, 2011.

While Chavan has set a fresh deadline for submission of the reports, the project's fate still hangs in the balance. To begin with, it is as of yet unclear which body will implement the project. MMRDA, CIDCO and MSRDC are all in the running for this profitable privilege.

Nine points
The MSRDC, on the other hand, wants the state government to respond to nine crucial issues raised by it concerning the project, before it moves forward to implement the project: the location of the South Mumbai terminal, an assurance from the Mumbai Port Trust, Maharashtra Maritime Board and CIDCO that they will charge nominal rates for the land required for the project, the state's promise that it will support the construction of a similar transport system on the east coast, and a nod from the Maritime Board after locations are finalised.

The body has also asked for a financial provision of Rs 186 crore from the government as an initial monetary grant for the commencement of the project, a nod from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to allow passenger traffic in its precincts, and a new resolution declaring the MSRDC as the project-implementing agency. It has also demanded the state's approval for two transport routes on the East coast, from Nerul to Colaba and from Colaba to Revas or Mandva.

In addition to the payment to get the project off the ground, MSRDC has also asked the state government to sanction Rs 750 crore for development of basic infrastructure.

Officials of MMRDA and CIDCO both refused to comment on the issue before receiving specific inputs from the State Transport Secretary.

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