Even before work begins, the cost of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) project has escalated by Rs 1,500 crore.
In April, the civic body had floated tenders to appoint contractors to design and build twin tunnels, including approach roads, of the project. The cost estimate was then Rs 4,770 crore. However, now it has gone up to Rs 6,225 crore for both tunnels.
While the estimate for the south side tunnel is Rs 3,205 crore, the north side tunnel will cost Rs 3,020 crore. Both tunnels are about 4.7 km long, passing the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) 25 metres to 200 metres underground.
Civic officials said the increase in cost is due to two reasons. Earlier estimate was made one and half years back. Another reason is, new tender conditions put up as per instructions of the central government in a bid to keep Chinese companies out. As China is the biggest supplier and manufacturer of Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), now the civic body will have to look to Western countries, which may cost more. Officials said countries like Russia, Germany, Austria and Turkey have TBMs.
“The earlier calculation of cost is more than a year old. Now, the process of appointing agency and starting work will take another six to eight months. We have to see what the price and inflation rates are at that time. It’s a futuristic estimate. Another factor now is, with new conditions Chinese companies may not qualify for the project that were providing low-cost TBMs,” P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects), told The Indian Express.
The BMC has planned the 13.65-km GMLR to ease traffic on Mumbai’s east-west connectors. It would be the fourth such connector. The existing road from Western Express Highway to Film City in Goregaon will be connected to Amar Nagar in Mulund west and further to Eastern Express Highway.
Earlier, in September the BMC had cancelled the tenders for GMLR following technical reasons. As per the new tender condition, “Any bidder from a country which shares land border with India will be eligible to bid only if it is registered with the competent authority.” The change came after the finance ministry made amendments to General Financial Rules (GFR) 2017 under which bidders from border countries will be eligible only if they are registered with the registration committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
The BMC is hoping that splitting the project into two will help speed up work and minimise risk factor. “Risk diversification, better project monitoring, creating a sense of competition between agencies are some reasons for dividing the project. It’s a huge project and will be difficult for a single firm to execute work. Also, in the current pandemic situation it makes sense to split it into two,” said Velrasu.
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