To ensure Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL),which has been through two failed rounds of tendering,takes off this time,MMRDA has decided to give shortlisted consortia six more weeks to prepare proposals. This,however,means the showpiece transport infrastructure project delayed for more than three decades will not start this year as well.
The 22-km MTHL,also known as Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link,will connect Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
The longest sea bridge in the country will begin at Sewri in South Mumbai and terminate at Chirle village near Nhava Sheva after passing over Thane Creek.
It will be linked to Mumbai-Pune Expressway in the east and to Western Freeway. Changes were made in request for proposal documents recently and approved on May 6 by the central government. The five consortia should have sufficient time to prepare and submit bids, said Ashwini Bhide,additional metropolitan commissioner at MMRDA.
The shortlisted consortia were to submit bids by May 24 but the deadline was extended to July 5.
MMRDA will take about a month to evaluate submitted proposals and select a concessionaire to execute the project in public-private partnership.
Thereafter,the concessionaire will need about six months for financial closure. The actual construction is likely to start only in February or March next year.
The project is important,when the construction starts is not. What is important is we should have maximum bidders,the consortia sufficient time to submit qualitative bids and the concessionaire should achieve financial closure. Construction can start immediately after that, Bhide said.
MMRDA has also started talking to bankers to ensure smooth financial closure and has introduced a provision in bid documents to allow the concessionaire a loan of up to 10 per cent of the project cost of Rs 9,630 crore if traffic is below 80 per cent in the first seven years.
MTHL is considered a risky project as returns will depend on traffic,which,in turn,will depend on future development in mainland such as Navi Mumbai International Airport. MMRDA has estimated a traffic of 62,000 vehicles per day in the initial years.
The project has had a few false starts. The first time,bids submitted by the Ambani brothers were found to be unrealistic,while the second time not a single company came forward to bid. MMRDA revived the project in 2011 and a year later,shortlisted five consortia to participate in bidding.