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Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday conveyed to the Maharashtra government that RFQ (request for quotation) for the ambitious elevated corridors between Churchgate-Virar and CST-Panvel would be called by August 15.
The developments come in the wake of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting the Centre to fast-track mega-Mumbai projects conceived and approved in the last 20 months.
During his Delhi visit, Fadnavis held a meeting with the railway minister to pursue the elevated railway and road corridor, estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crore. The project, a joint venture of railways and state government through a Special Purpose Vehicle in public-private partnership, is being pushed vigorously by Prabhu and Fadnavis.
Ahead of the crucial BMC elections in early 2017, the state government is keen on pursuing city-based projects.
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Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar believes the project will help in bringing relief to half-a- million commuters going through the daily grind in the metropolis.
Highly placed sources in the government said, “Notwithstanding the complexities related to land acquisition and the need for realignments there is absolutely no ambiguity about the project.”
Fadnavis had indicated that the government’s foremost concern is to provide an effective mode of transport to Mumbaikars and those living in extended suburbs. Another aspect relates to connectivity between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, where the international airport is underway and expected to complete by 2019.
As per original plans, the Churchgate-Vivar stretch entailed 63.27 km along the western line, approximately 42 km of elevated stretch and 8 km underground, and 12 km grad. However, sources indicated that exact realignment is still underway for the two phases project which would be Bandra-Virar and Churchgate-Bandra. CST-Panvel stretch remains unaltered. Along with elevated rail corridors, it has also proposed six lane road on the same pier erected for the railway corridors.
While indicating that the nitty-gritty of alignments would further require fine-tuning, officials indicated, “Both Prabhu and Fadnavis have set the pitch for the project to process work by August 15. The state government already held series of meetings with the railway ministry.”
The push for the mega-projects have seen the Centre-state tapping various overseas investors who would provide low interest loans for spread over 30 to 40 years to take its infrastructure projects to the logical end.
The elevated railway corridor was first discussed in 2007. But successive Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra and Centre could never take the project to its logical end.
The project at least twice was revived and again shelved due to differences within the Congress-NCP, the state administration and the Union railways.
In 2014, BJP and the state decided to go ahead with the project, which it believes would help in decongestion of traffic both in trains and roads.