The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has agreed to loan Rs 15,000 crore, about 86 percent of the total estimated cost of the showpiece Sewri-Nhava Sheva Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the cost of which has ballooned by nearly 60 percent to over Rs 17,000 crore.
On the sidelines of the inaugural day of the ‘Make in India’ week at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on Saturday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ironed out details of the loan agreement with Yosuke Takagi, Japan’s Minister of State for Economy, Trade and Industry.
A senior official who did not wish to be named said after the discussions, MMRDA, the implementing agency for constructing the 22-km sea link, is preparing to call for tenders on March 9 on a cash contract model.
“The CM also informed officials from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that Maharashtra intends to give out the work order for the project by October 2016, and the Japan officials have agreed to cooperate. Currently, JICA is evaluating the bid documents for the project,” the bureaucrat said.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international body that helps governments achieve economic growth targets and financial stability, has issued a notification for a loan agreement between JICA and the Indian government for the link, the official said. “It is significant as it defines the intent,” he said.
The actual amount will be disbursed in three almost equal tranches only after the work order is given and actual construction begins, at an interest rate of 1.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, the cost of the project has surged due to changes in the project design on two counts, one on JICA’s request and the second for navigational purposes in the sea. “Since it is a very long sea link, JICA suggested building two additional lanes, one on each side, for emergency evacuation. This will increase the width of both carriageways by five metres in addition to the earlier 24-25 metres, and make it an eight-lane road instead of the original six-lane,” an MMRDA official said. Also, a section of the bridge will now be constructed in steel to have a wider span, which refers to the distance between two pillars, he added.
The MTHL will be an important connector for the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. It will also open up new areas in Navi Mumbai for development by boosting connectivity with south Mumbai. The project has, however, seen several false starts.
The link was conceived more than three decades ago, but the first attempt to invite tenders was made in 2005, valuing the project at about Rs 4,000 crore. Tenders floated to construct the link on a public-private partnership drew only two bids, one by each of the Ambani brothers, which were ultimately found to be unreasonable. The second time, the state tried to tender out the project as a cash contract in 2008, with the cost pegged at Rs 6,000 crore. However, no company responded. There was a third attempt in 2011, going back to a PPP model, with the cost at Rs 8,800 crore, which drew a blank.
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