The stalled Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro project, which will be the city’s second Metro corridor, is now likely to gather pace with the chief minister-led urban development department having recently cleared a key decision for the project, after sitting on the file for more than nine months.
Earlier this month, the state government approved the reconstitution of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) and nominated five members to the board of the joint venture between the Union government and the state government.
The chief minister’s nod was key for the reconstitution of the MMRCL. In the absence of a fresh board of directors under the reconstituted MMRCL, all major decisions about the Metro project were put on hold.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the implementing agency for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro, had submitted a proposal for the reconstitution of the MMRCL to the state urban development department in October last year. The state government was to nominate five of its own members on the 10-member board of the Metro corporation. The other five members are Union government nominees.
“The file was pending for the chief minister’s approval, which we have recently received. We have also finalised the five state government nominees who will be on the corporation’s board. We will now inform the Union government about it. Once the Ministry of Urban Development gives its final approval to this decision, the MMRCL will be converted into a joint venture,” said a senior official from the state urban development department.
The state government has nominated the MMRDA commissioner, the additional metropolitan commissioner, secretary of the urban development department, the finance secretary and a technical expert as its five nominees on the MMRCL’s board, the official said. He, however, added that the state government was yet to appoint the technical expert on the board.
In the absence of the reconstituted MMRCL, the city’s development authority had temporarily slammed the brakes on the tendering process of the Rs 23,126-crore Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro.
The MMRDA had invited pre-qualification bids for the project in September last year. The original deadline for the submission of bids was specified as October 30.The plan was to evaluate the bids by November 30 and call for request for proposals in the first week of December.
After extending the last date for the submission of pre-qualification bids on several occasions, the MMRDA in March this year received submissions from 14 companies in joint ventures interested in taking up contracts for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro. However, despite four months having lapsed since then, the development authority has been unable to prepare a shortlist of firms eligible for the financial bidding.
U P S Madan, metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA, said, “We are avoiding the tendering process with the current board (of the state-owned MMRCL). We prefer that the regular board takes these decisions for the project.”
The Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro will be the city’s first underground Metro. With a length of 33.5 km, it will be nearly three times longer than the city’s first Metro –the 11.4-km elevated Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro. The fully-underground corridor, which will have 26 stations, is one of the costliest infrastructure projects planned for Mumbai.