Commuters on the Eastern and Western Express Highways will have to brace for a rough ride this monsoon, with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) yet to find a bidder for road repairs. Despite making a third call for the pre-monsoon repair work, the planning body has failed to receive sufficient bids, and is considering calling off the tender.
“There is no point in awarding a tender for pre-monsoon road repairs now that the monsoon has begun. We have already invited bids for road repairs during the monsoon, and we will open the tender on Friday. The necessary work will be completed under that,” said an MMRDA engineer.
Pre-monsoon repairs are conducted to prepare roads for the onslaught of rain. Road repairs are also conducted during the monsoon, to fill potholes. The MMRDA has now pinned their hopes for finding a contractor on the monsoon repair tender. In the interim, if there is an urgent work that has to be immediately looked into, there will be no contractor available.
According to the MMRDA, the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) closure of some quarries in Thane and the consequent shortage of aggregate material is preventing contractors from bidding.
“Contractors are not bidding for the project as they are finding it difficult to get raw material due to the ban on Thane quarries. However, they can get the material from places such as Palghar and Raigarh. It will involve more costs, but it is important to complete this work,” said Pravin Darade, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
Over 70 quarries were shut down in Navi Mumbai on March 30 due to lack of necessary environmental permissions and a pending NGT case. To prevent their dependence on the contractors for the raw material, the MMRDA is also considering starting a hard-mix plant. “After the monsoon, we will begin our own hard-mix plant, so that we are not dependent on the contractors,” added Darade.
The two highways were handed over by the PWD to the MMRDA for a period of five years in mid-April, in an attempt to skirt the Supreme Court’s ban on liquor sale within 500 metres of highways. The MMRDA invited bids on May 4, May 13 and then again in the third week of May for the pre-monsoon repair work.