Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

Fund crunch may slam brakes on showpiece development projects

Written by Manasi Phadke | Mumbai | Posted: August 7, 2013 12:48 am

The rapid pace of infrastructure development that the city has witnessed over the last few years with several roads,flyovers and mass transit projects adding to its transport network is likely to slacken now as most showpiece projects planned are struggling to come to.

These are some of the state government’s showpiece projects planned for the city like the Sewri-Nhava Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL),the Virar-Alibaug Multi Modal Corridor,the Charkop-Bandra Mankhurd Metro and an elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar. These projects were proposed to be developed on a public private partnership model.

UPS Madan,metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority,said,“There is a general problem in infrastructure development throughout the country. Due to the economic slowdown,companies are not getting finances very easily. This is the case even in some of the national highway projects.”

“A number of projects are also facing procedural hurdles such as environment clearance,legal issues,agreements with different agencies. We have to solve each case independently. However,some rethinking is required to see how these legal requirements and coordination can be made less cumbersome so that the projects move faster,” Madan said.

Of the infrastructure projects planned to be completed by 2018-19,it is only the underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro and the Sewri-Worli elevated road that are on track. With regard to the Rs 24,500-crore Metro line,the MMRDA has recently received the Cabinet’s approval for the project and is planning to invite tenders. The development authority has also invited bids to construct the Rs 455.6-crore elevated road.

Of the other projects,the MMRDA was expecting to start construction of the Rs 9,630-crore MTHL by this year’s end or early next year. However,for the third time the tendering process for the 22-km harbour link failed as there were no bidders. Companies feared that lower-than-expected traffic in the first few years would impact their cash flows.

Similarly,the development authority was initially expecting to start work of one phase of the Rs 12,975-crore Virar-Alibag Multi Model Corridor by early next year and complete it by 2017. It is now struggling to acquire 1,261 hectares of land.

“Once the construction begins,the first phase from Navghar to Panvel will be ready in three or four years. But we can’t fix any date to begin construction because we have to start land acquisition from scratch,” Madan said. While the Rs 21,000-crore Churchgate-Virar elevated rail corridor is stuck for the lack of a state-support agreement,the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro has been stalled for years for lack of a CRZ clearance for its car depot.

“In case of public private partnership projects,globally the monetary situation is not very good,” said Narinder Nayar,managing director at Concast (India).

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