Wary of a poor response in its fourth attempt to bid out the Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour link, the city’s development authority has decided to ease the bid conditions and eligibility criteria to attract a good number of contractors and set the project rolling.
The complex project has been in the planning stages for more than three decades as the government’s three previous attempts to bid it out had drawn a blank. To avoid a similar situation again, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has eased some requirements of prior construction experience, in an attempt to make the project financially more attractive for potential contractors, across all three construction packages.
The MMRDA had earlier stipulated that the contractor should have had successfully constructed at least one road over a water body, with the 22-km harbour link touted to be the country’s longest road link across the sea, for each of its three packages.
The authority had said the minimum length of such a road built across a sea, creek, river or estuary be at least 2 kilometres for every package the contractor decides to bid for. However, the MMRDA has now decided to relax this to a minimum of a one-kilometre bridge.
Besides, it has also decided to consider projects involving railway and Metro railway bridges constructed between the highest flood level of a water body to widen the gamut of companies that can become eligible for the trans harbour link.
A senior MMRDA official, who did not wish to be named, said, “About 16-17 companies attended the pre-bid meeting for the project and requested that we make this change to encourage more competition. We agreed, as this will not compromise the quality in any way.”
Other than relaxing the construction experience condition, the MMRDA has also decided to allow potential bidders to get implementation contracts for two of the three packages. Previously, the authority had decided that while firms will be able to bid for more than one package if they choose, no company can be awarded a contract for more than one package.
“This way, the project will be more optimal for contractors, and even for the government to a certain extent. If a contractor wins more than one package, the company will be able to do more work with the same investment and mobilization of machinery and manpower. It will reduce the cost of construction, which will be beneficial for the state too,” the MMRDA official said.
However, the development authority has categorically stated that a single contractor will not be awarded the first and the second packages, as these make up more than 80 per cent of the total work. “A single contractor can work on the first and third packages, or the second and third packages, but not the first and second packages together,” the official added.
The first package, estimated to cost Rs 6,600 crore, will entail the construction of 10.38 km, starting from Sewri across the Mumbai harbour, of the total 22-km sea link. The first package will also comprise construction for suitable interchanges at Sewri on the island side for traffic connectivity.
The second package, pegged at Rs 4,900 crore, will involve the construction of 7.81 km of the bridge, while the third package, likely to cost Rs 1,307 crore, is for the construction of a 3.6-km viaduct on the mainland side, including interchanges at a state highway and national highway near Chirle in Navi Mumbai.