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For a year now,MSRDC reduced to a bit player

A major chunk of the work that the MSRDC was expected to undertake is still awaiting state govt clearance.

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai |
December 17, 2013 2:39:33 am

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC),set up in 1996 to carry out major transport infrastructure projects in the state,has been relegated to undertaking minor works such as repairs of flyover and footover-bridges in the past one year.

A flyover at Kapurbawdi in Thane,bids for the construction of storm water drains on the Bhiwandi-Kalyan Shil Phata road,a few footover-bridges,repairs to flyovers,initiation of bids for construction of truck terminals on the expressway,a couple of flyovers on the Aurangabad-Jalna road and a training academy at Vengaon for the sales tax department. MSRDC’s scale of work has been miniscule this year.

The idea behind launching MSRDC,which today has a subscribed capital of Rs 773.5 crore, was to have a team of competent professionals as directors to systematically undertake major transport infrastructure works and encourage public private participation. When contacted,Jaydatt Kshirsagar,MSRDC Chairman and minister for public works department (public undertakings),told Newsline,“We have hardly been able to do anything this year. Everything that we have done this year is really minor. All the major projects are awaiting clearance from the state government. It has been like this for nearly two years now.”

A major chunk of the work that the MSRDC was expected to undertake in 2013 — development works worth nearly Rs 13,000 crore — is stuck,awaiting clearance from the Chief Minister-led cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure. This includes projects such as passenger water transport on the city’s eastern and western coasts,capacity addition to the Mumbai-Pune expressway,sea links from Worli to Haji Ali and Bandra to Versova,the second phase of an integrated development road project in Solapur and so on.

All projects being undertaken on a build-operate-transfer mode and worth more than Rs 25 crore need a nod from the cabinet sub-committee of infrastructure. By this definition,most projects to be implemented by the MSRDC require the committee’s approval.

The MSRDC office was buzzing with activity till about 2010 when the corporation was working on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and later the Bandra-Worli sea link. Planning for projects such as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link,passenger water transport and the other sea links was also going on simultaneously. While the mandate for the harbour link has now been handed over the the Congress-led MMRDA,the other projects are stalled in wait of being appraised by the cabinet sub-committee.

“We spent the past few years in getting feasibility studies,environment clearances and so on. These projects are ready now for implementation,but not a single subject has come up for discussion. The last meeting of the cabinet sub-committee was about a year ago,” NCP’s Kshirsagar said.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had in October said that he will convene a meeting of the cabinet sub-committee of infrastructure by October 30 in which at least four projects—the passenger water transport,expressway capacity expansion,and the two sea links–would be taken up for discussion.

The only major project in which the MSRDC made some headway in 2013 was the plan for a 4.1-km flyover on the congested Peddar road,which had been stalled for a decade because of lack of an environment clearance and opposition from locals. An expert committee of the MoEF recently decided to recommend the project for clearance and the MSRDC hopes to start construction in 2014 once it gets the traffic department’s approval.

The MSRDC’s dwindling finances are the stumbling blocks for the corporation to implement several projects that it plans. According to the latest audited accounts available of the MSRDC that the corporation’s board approved on July 11,2013,the MSRDC had in financial year 2010-11 posted a loss of Rs 257.48 crore,which was nearly double the loss that it had posted in the preceding year.

According to the corporation’s latest available annual returns filed with the registrar,the MSRDC had an indebtedness of Rs 3,188.5 crore as of March 31,2012. The corporation does not get an annual budget from the state government,but raises funds for projects through commercial borrowings.

Owing to bleak finances,the MSRDC has to often depend on the state government or other government agencies to finance their projects. The 400-crore expansion of the Thane creek bridge and the Rs 5,000-crore plan for a seamless elevated corridor over the congested western suburbs are examples of concepts that are awaiting implementation due to lack of funds. While the elevated corridor has been put on hold,the corporation is mulling over either raising funds for the Thane creek bridge expansion on its own or approaching the union government for funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

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