State takes new route for MTHL projecthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/state-takes-new-route-for-mthl-project/

State takes new route for MTHL project

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will discuss the demand with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 13.

The Maharashtra government has decided to push for Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) to be declared as a “project of national importance.”

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will discuss the demand with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 13,when the latter has convened a meeting to review the status of various infrastructure projects in the state.

While the Centre has so far extended the label only to major irrigation projects in the country,Chavan feels the tag could also be extended to vital infrastructure projects like the MTHL that has the potential to transform the country’s financial capital into a world-class city.

Metropolitan Commissioner U P S Madan said,“The idea was to seek maximum funding assistance from the Centre for the crucial project.”

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In the past,the Centre has funded up to 90 per cent of the cost for projects of national importance.

Repeated attempts to build the 22-km link,which will connect Sewri in the island city to Nhava Seva in Navi Mumbai,under the public private partnership (PPP) model have failed. Now,the state government wants to take up the project on its own.

Chavan has directed Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to implement the project on its own under a cash contract. The MTHL,once completed,will be the fourth longest in the world after the 36-km Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China,the 32-km Donghai Bridge in China,and the 26-km King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already evinced interest in providing a loan to state government for the project. Senior state government officials said they were hoping that 60 per cent of the project cost would be raised by way of the JICA loan. The state is now hoping that the Centre contributes a major share of the remaining amount. A state official said the government hopes that at least 20 per cent of the project cost will be centrally funded. “The MMRDA has sent a proposal regarding the loan agreement with JICA to the state government,” said Madan. “We are aiming to start actual work on the project before the end of next year,” he added.

While the PMO had sought the meeting to review status of three infrastructure projects,namely the Navi Mumbai International Airport,the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor project and Pune’s Chakan airport project,Chavan is expected to discuss the MTHL demand during the meeting.

Senior officials said Chavan might also press for removal of hurdles for a speedy handover of the Indu Mill land to the state government for a memorial of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

The CM is also expected to make a case for unlocking of certain salt pan lands for development,besides seeking a policy for rehabilitation of slum encroachments on central government lands. Other infrastructure projects likely to be reviewed include the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Bangalore-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

sandeep.ashar@expressindia.com