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MMRDA may drop Metro from project

When bids are invited from qualified private players for the 22-km Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link before the year-end

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
November 12, 2011 1:30:53 am

When bids are invited from qualified private players for the 22-km Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link before the year-end,the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) intends to leave out the proposed Metro Rail along the bridge from the scope of the contract.

While the original plan was to make provision for two Metro Railway lines alongside the six-lane high speed bridge connecting Sewri in the mainland to Nhava across the harbour,officials have now decided that even civil works for the mass transit system alongside will not be undertaken as part of the current project. For one,this will bring the total cost of the project down from the earlier estimates of Rs 12,000 crore. Also,as the proposed Metro Rail route is designed to be built further into the heart of Central Mumbai from Sewri,officials believe it could be many years before that project actually takes off.

Confirming that the Request for Qualification (RFQ) document will not make mention of even civil works for the Metro Rail alongside the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL),Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana said the Metro could be several years away. “It is to be built underground from Sewri to Prabhadevi,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to make investments right now when that Metro Rail route is to be built after many years.”

The Prabhadevi-Sewri underground section of the proposed Metro Rail route is expected to face several hurdles,as the route passes through congested parts of Central Mumbai.

The RFQ advertisements,given the nod by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and awaiting a final go-ahead form the Centre,will only be for the six-lane highway.

Keeping the project cost low has been a priority for the MMRDA,as it is keen to obtain Viability Gap Funding from the Centre.

The bids are to be structured in a way so as to keep total costs low including,for example,keeping the construction of interchanges out of the bids. VGF can be no more than 40 per cent of the total cost,as per the norms set by the Central government.

Meanwhile,the MMRDA is also set to use funds from the World Bank to process soft loans for the concessionaire that is selected to build the bridge. While VGF will account for 40 per cent of the total cost – 20 per cent to be paid by the Centre and an equal share by the MMRDA – another 20 per cent is expected to be a soft loan.

Though the MMRDA has the funds to hand out the loans from its own coffers,officials expect to be able to obtain cheaper loans from the World Bank and pass them on to the winning consortium,making a profit of about one per cent in the process while its own funds remain available for other projects.

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