The decade-old plan of tapping the city’s waterways for commuting, the bids for which were finalized in 2012, is now being scaled down for the east coast. This is being done to lower the immediate cost the government will have to incur for building the supporting infrastructure.
After a recent meeting with state government officials, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has decided to rework the plan for the east coast water transport system to build the planned network in three phases. This will bring the immediate investment required to about a third of the planned amount, said Anil Diggikar, vice chairman and managing director at MSRDC.
He said scaling down the project and building it phase-wise will not impact the number of terminals. The MSRDC will still construct terminals at Ferry Wharf, Mandwa and Nerul as planned but the size and capacity of the terminals in the first phase would be much lesser than what was originally planned. “The terminals can be expanded in phases, once there is sufficient ridership,” Diggikar said.
According to the original plan, the terminals at Ferry Wharf and Nerul were to have four berths for the roll-on-roll-off service and eight passenger ferry berths, while the Mandwa terminal was to have two berths for the roll-on-roll-off service and three for passenger ferry service. The MSRDC had also decided to equip the terminals with a waiting lounge, cafeteria, a snack counter, restrooms, book stalls, ATMs and a parking area.
Diggikar said, “The project cost was coming up to Rs 1,300-Rs 1,350 crore, so there was a discussion on whether there would be sufficient ridership to make the project viable. The aim is to not make losses, so we are thinking about implementing the project in three phases. If taken up in phases, the project will cost roughly Rs 400 crore for each phase. We will present a plan to implement the project phase-wise to the cabinet sub-committee of infrastructure, which will take a final call.”
The MSRDC had proposed to construct the terminals for the east coast water transport network by raising funds through bonds. Besides, it has also sought a contribution of 40 percent from CIDCO and 20 percent from the state government. The operation will be outsourced at a later stage.“Implementing the project in phases may not impact the existing tenders that we had finalized for the project. The contractors can take up the work phase wise,” Diggikar said.
The MSRDC had originally pegged the project cost at Rs 356 crore when it had called for bids more than two years ago. However, the cost has swelled due to bidders quoting a higher amount and certain design changes.