The stalled Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project is beginning to gain momentum once again, with the city’s development authority expecting the Japan International Cooperation Agency to formally sanction a loan for the Rs 9,630-crore project during its project appraisal cycle in September.
Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner at Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said the state government had sent a formal proposal to the Union Finance Ministry’s department of economic affairs for its approval to get funds from JICA.
“JICA loan sanctions are done two times a year, either in April or September. We are targeting this September for the loan to be formally sanctioned,” Bhide said.
“We are expecting a loan of between 60 and 80 percent of the project cost from JICA. If the loan is on the higher side, the tolling period and the toll can be lesser,” she said.
Bhide added that as per procedure, there should be a nominating ministry in order to apply for the loan. The documentation to appoint the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways as the nominating ministry was under way, she said.
However, even if JICA sanctions the loan in September, work on the project, which has been on the drawing board for more than three decades now, may not start until at least a year, Bhide said.
As per the original plan, construction of the 22-km Worli-Sewri link was to start late last year or early this year on public-private partnership (PPP) model. There were six international consortia that had responded to the MMRDA’s request for qualification and five were shortlisted for bidding. However, not a single company responded to the development authority’s request for proposals despite several deadline extensions in what was the third failed round of tendering out the project.
In August last year, the MMRDA decided to scrap the PPP model for the project and execute it instead on a cash-contract basis. Subsequently, JICA expressed interest in providing funds for the project.
The Japanese agency has sanctioned a loan for one other Mumbai project – the fully-underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro. JICA is providing a loan at an interest rate of 1.4 percent to fund 57.2 percent of the total project cost of Rs 23,136 crore.