The construction for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), a 22-km-long sea link connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva, is set to begin. The MTHL comprises three packages including the construction of a 21.8 km-long bridge that connects south Mumbai’s mainland with Navi Mumbai.
The heavy construction arm of Larsen & Toubro was awarded tenders for packages 1 and 3 of MTHL. Package-1 was bid in partnership IHI, Japan. The Package 02 was awarded to Tata Projects who submitted a joint bid with Daewoo from Korea.
The project includes a 21.8 km long bridge that will link Mumbai mainland and Navi Mumbai. Under package 1, L&T will construct a multi-level interchange at Sewri as well as a 10.38 km six-lane marine bridge from Sewri into the Mumbai Bay. The bridge will traverse through Sewri mudflats, Pir Pau Jetty and also Thane Creek channels. In a first for India, this project will also include an orthotropic steel deck crossing several obligatory navigation channels.
L&T was awarded a standalone tender for the package-03. Under this package, it will construct a six-lane bridge connecting National Highway-4B and National Highway-54. The land bridge will stretch 3.6 km and will also include interchanges, toll plazas and rail over bridges. Package-02 is entirely over sea and connects the two other packages.
MTHL was conceived as an economic gateway to Navi Mumbai which will also provide connectivity to those travelling between Thane and Nashik as well Panvel and Pune. The end target includes boosting the economic activity in the entire Raigad district and nearby areas.
Cost jump, toll charges and safety focus
From the first estimate of the project, the project’s cost has jumped 295 per cent since 2005 but that has come along with multiple delays and mandatory upgrades. For instance, first proposed as a six-lane project in 2004, its cost jumped from Rs 4,500 crore in 2005 to Rs 9,360 crore in 2013 and Rs 11,000 crore in 2014 estimates. Now, it is pegged at Rs 17, 800 crore. The jump in cost also includes the change in design mandated by financiers Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to include two rescue lanes in the bridge on either side. These lanes are only to be used in times of emergency for evacuation but effectively it widens the bridge size making it an eight-lane bridge. The construction technologies have also been changed ramping up the cost.
The toll charges fixed in plans as per now stand at Rs 175 for passenger cars, Rs 265 for light commercial vehicles, Rs 525 for buses and trucks, and Rs 790 for heavy-axle vehicles. These are one-side charges.
MMRDA estimated in 2013 that in the first year, the bridge after construction will see 62,000 passenger car units on the bridge plying daily which would increase to around 2 lakh vehicles a day in the 30 year of operation assuming the Navi Mumbai International Airport will have become operational.
The project is financed majorly by JICA with the Japanese body injecting 85 per cent of funds for the project leaving MMRDA to cover the remaining 15 per cent.