India’s longest sea bridge
Mumbai Trans Harbour Link connecting Navi Mumbai to the mainland will be India’s longest sea bridge. It is expected to provide direct connectivity to Mumbai Port Trust (MPT), Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport. MTHL will be a gateway to Pune Expressway and southern India. (See Figure 1)
Better late than never
Finally its ‘cast in stone’– after a wait of several decades, the foundation stone of the long awaited MTHL project laid by PM on year end (24th Dec 2016), became by default a Christmas gift of 2016 to Mumbai (Figure 2). And Mumbaikars should pray hard to the almighty that this Trans Harbor link does come up now and ease their lives by relieving traffic chaos and high commutation times, as. MTHL will connect Navi Mumbai to the mainland, is aimed at easing the crowd chaos and shall also boost business activities.
This ` 17,500 crore mega project Mumbai Trans Harbour Link connecting Navi Mumbai to the mainland will be India’s longest sea bridge stretching 22 KM in length. Maharashra Chief Minister, in one of his tweet, called it the “most-ambitious project of Mumbaikars.” (See Figure 3)
MTHL has also been a classic case of how all, any of infra projects can and in fact do get delayed, resulting in huge losses to the exchequer as well as hardships to public at large. In this sense MTHL is an interesting story and a memorable lesson for all stakeholders: the Service Provider, Finan-cers , Planners , Politicians, Bureaucracy, Environmentalists, Project Management, NGOs and the User of Services – The Citizen.
The MTHL Project in bullets
Before entering into the story and larger history, it would be prudent to start by knowing a few things that are the facts as they stand on date. These 5 things to know about the MTHL project are (See Figures 1,3,4 &5. Also see Fact Sheet):
1) The 22-km long MTHL, also known as Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link, is a proposed 22 km, will be a freeway grade road bridge connecting Mumbai to Navi Mumbai. It will also help develop the mainland and parts of Raigad District. The project completion deadline has been set at 2019.
2) When completed, MTHL would be the longest sea bridge in India. It will start from South Mumbai’s Sewri, will cross Thane’s Creek north of Elephanta Island and will end at Chirle village, near Nhava Sheva.
3) The bridge will be further linked to
the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in the east and Western Freeway in the
west. As per the current plan, this sea link will contain a 6 lane highway, which will be 27 meters in width, and will also include an edge strip and crash barrier.
4) The History of Delays & Costs is a long story but the gist of it is that the Project is long-pending with first attempt to build the sea link being made in 2004. Construction giant Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) had submitted a request to implement the project on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis. However, the application was later rejected. Rise in cost -In 2012, the project cost was estimated at over ` 9,360 crore; today that number has been reworked to ` 17,500 crore.
5) Finally coming to the Current Status of the project estimate the cost has been pegged at ` 17,700 crore (US$2.6 billion). MMRDA is at pre-qualification bids evaluation and contract award stage. The MMRDA plans to award contracts for the project by June 2017 Construction is expected to begin after monsoon by october 2017. The toll proposed for commercial vehicles in 2012 was R800 one-way.
With this background it is easy to understand that there would have been many pits and falls through which the project sailed through but finally has braved the rough weather to now embark on execution stage. It is imperative that most of the pitfalls could have been avoided by diligent planning and the delays contained. A foolproof, no delay situation surely is not expected considering the all too prevalent systemic issues that exist in our overall system. However as the narrative unfolds it shows how critical aspects of planning, forecast, financing & business model, clearances, land acquisition, rehabilitation, etc could not be accomplished in a synergized manner to keep all stakeholders in line and project within reasonable timeline.
At this juncture with all humility I will have to start the narrative with first bringing in Engineer-Designer Wilbur Stevenson Smith who put in right perspective the plan for Bombay, far ahead of his times. See Figure 6
A Half century ago, the man who saw the future
This man saw Tomorrow. Wilbur Stevenson Smith graduated from University of South Carolina and went on to become the first state traffic engineer. He studied traffic engineering at Harvard and Yale and eventually taught there as well. He started his firm Wilbur Smith and Associates in 1952, which had expertise in almost every facet of transportation. He first went international in 1961 with projects in UK and Kolkata!
If Smith’s plan were implemented then, Mumbai would not have become the traffic nightmare it is. It would not have grown in a straight-line south to north. There would have possibly been a Central Business District of the size of BKC in Uran, 25 minutes from Nariman Point. Of course, Mumbai would not have become sneezing-wheezing city it is today because of the unbridled pollution.
Also, the state would have saved sacks full of money. The cost of implementation of Smith’s plan, including freeways and major arterial roads, was ` 96 crore.
Even at a compounded annual interest of eight per cent for 50 years, that’s Rs 4,502 crore today. The cost of only three freeways/transharbour links and major link roads today exceeds Rs 15,000 crore.
The report that Smith’s firm, Wilbur Smith Associates, handed over to the Union Ministry of Transport on December 19, 1963 was based on extensive studies conducted over 18 months.
These included everything from theoretical studies of the existing road network, to on-ground surveys of average passenger car occupancy, average vehicle trips, trucks trips, household surveys and pedestrian count of select locations. The plan recommended at least 10 freeways and expressways and 24 major arterial roads across the city. His plans continue to be under construction to this date.
When Smith proposed the 22.5-km Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans-Harbour Link to connect Mumbai with the mainland, he called this bridge as the Uran Bridge. The Smith report was unsure of the link’s feasibility. Even as of 1981 his report cited poor traffic expectations in Uran, thus advising against action till a detailed study of this connection and recommended a wait until the Trans-Thana area develops further as also more community services get extended to Uran.
However, in 1973, the Vashi Bridge linking Mankhurd in Mumbai with Vashi in Navi Mumbai had opened. The Trans-Har-bour Link looked closer than earlier thought.
The Wilbur Smith Inspiration?
Rahul Asthana, commissioner, MMRDA in 2011, admitted that the city has wasted many years. “I can’t say much on why we didn’t start then, but we are at least starting now. It is only when there is crisis that we start acting, instead of being ready for it.”
Former chief secretary D M Sukthankar, in service during the 1960s, however notes that , though the Smith report was technically sound, the main problem in that era was paucity of funding. In essence the BOT (Build Operate Transfer) model which involves public and private participation did not even exist. This meant the money had to come largely from budget surplus.
It turned out to be a double whammy when the spending philosophy too was to direct any such surplus towards rural infrastructure first. Then only it could be spent on urban areas where too the preference would be on public spends like public transport, not on facilities for the private elite consumption.
Setting the Project in Motion
It has been 47 years (plus) since the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) project was first proposed. The MTHL project also known as Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour link a 22km freeway grade road bridge was expected to reduce commuting time between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and provide direct connectivity to Mumbai Port Trust (MPT), Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport.
The first concrete attempt to build the sea link was made in 2004, when Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) submitted a proposal to implement the project on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) also submitted a counter proposal. However, the IL&FS proposal was sidelined by the government, for undisclosed reasons.
The Second attempt was made in 2005, when the MSRDC invited bids for the project. But bids submitted by the Ambani brothers were considered to be unrealistic. A consortium of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company Reliance Energy (REL) and Hyundai Engineering Construction Company quoted a concession period of nine years and 11 months against 75 years quoted by Mukesh Ambani’s Sea King Infrastructure (the only other shortlisted bidder left, after L&T Gamon Industries and IFFCO opted out). Perhaps it was only natural that No bidder in his right mind would have thought Safe to be in midst of such extreme bids!
The REL Hyundai consortium was initially disqualified at the technical bid stage as Hyundai did not meet the criteria of $200 million net worth specified in the bid document.
However, the consortium challenged the disqualification in the Supreme Court, and the Court granted them 90 days to submit their bid that ended on 15 December 2007. The consortium eventually won the bid in February 2008.
However, the MSRDC was not sure about viability of the low concession period. The MSRDC felt that the concession periods were “unrealistic” and that both bids “seemed frivolous in nature”.
Therefore a third attempt was made .The State Government called for a fresh bids for the project in 2008. However, none of the 13 companies that had shown interest, submitted bids.
The media took to criticizing the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress coalition, for their political feud being responsible for affecting Mumbai’s development” owing to lack of governance. The insinuation was not wrongly placed because the city’s two infrastructure agencies, the MSRDC and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), under the NCP and Congress respectively, were both planning to construct the MTHL at the same time. What could be more absurd than this!
The project underwent two failed rounds of tendering under the MSRDC, and was stuck for nearly two years (between 2009 and 2011), before the state government finally decided to hand over the mandate to MMRDA.
The animosity was so acute that following the decision, the MSRDC asked MMRDA to pay ?25 crore (US$3.7 million) if it wanted access to any of the Studies on Flamingos and other migratory birds at the Mahul-Sewri mudflats on the project conducted by the former.
After the MMRDA was tasked with executing the MTHL, the MSRDC took up the expansion of the Vashi Bridge by adding six more lanes to ease congestion at the entrance to Navi Mumbai.
However, the MMRDA refused the MSRDC’s request to allocate funds for the expansion of bridge, as the former believed that the expansion would divert some ridership from the MTHL.
With the question mark on feasibility MTHL came to the 4th revival attempt. The MMRDA appointed Arup Consultancy Engineers and KPMG to conduct the techno-economic feasibility of the MTHL in August 2011. The project now was to be based on a public-private- partnership model. The project received clearance from Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on 22 October 2012.
The Times of India aptly described the MTHL’s delay as being “symbolic of all that’s wrong with infrastructure planning and implementation in Mumbai”. The paper also stated that a project being “on the drawing board after more than forty years would be in the realm of fiction in any other country”. Truly so!
MOEF Clearances Lapse
The project received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on 23October 2012. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had obtained clearance for the project in March 2005, but the certificate was valid only for 5 years and lapsed due to the delays in the bidding process.
The MoEF laid down 11 conditions that the MMRDA had to follow. Some of the conditions were that the MMRDA
– Put up noise barriers,
– Replant five times the number of mangroves destroyed,
– Not carry out dredging or reclamation,
– Use construction equipment with exhaust silencers and
– Work in consultation with the Bombay Natural History Society to minimize the impact on migratory birds.
Environmental activists are opposed to the clearance. They point out there was no public hearing following the second application for environmental clearance. They believe that the sea link is not allowed as per the new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 2011. Activists also claim that the sea link would damage a huge mudflat and mangrove tract towards Sewri and Nhava which is a habitat for migratory birds like flamingos.
To overcome all such objections MMRDA plans to construct sound barriers on the bridge so that it does not affect the flamingo habitat at Sewri.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has directed MMRDA to construct a six km long view barrier to cut the view of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
The MTHL received coastal regulation zone clearance from the MoEF on 19 July 2013.
Govt. Finance Clearances
There is a 3 Tier clearance mechanism – DEA in-principle approval, Empowered Committee and finally from the Finance Minister in order that Project qualifies for VGF. On 31 October 2012, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) granted in-principle approval for the MTHL. The DEA recommended granting ?1,920 crore (US$290 million) with a concession period of 35 years for the project. In the first meeting, between MMRDA and DEA officials in September 2012, the ministry had asked the authority to treat the sea link as a road and reduce the proposed concession period from 45 years to 30 years. They also expected an internal rate of return (IRR) of 15% for the project.
However, the MMRDA wanted a higher rate as they claimed the project was very risky. An internal rate of return of 17% was agreed upon. The termination clause in the concession agreement comes into effect after 30 years into the concession period. The MMRDA can invoke the clause based on certain conditions such as the capacity being higher than expected. The conditions will be reviewed in the 20th year of the concession agreement.
The DEA is the first tier of the three-tier clearance process to get viability gap funding (VGF) for the project. The project must also receive approval from an Em-powered Committee and finally from the Finance Minister. On 9 November 2012, the State Government issued a state support agreement and a toll notification for the project. The empowered committee approved VGF for MTHL on 12 December 2012. Then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram cleared the project on 18 January 2013.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) asked the MMRDA to build the MTHL at a height of 51 metres, instead of the proposed 25 metres, for a span of 300 metres to accommodate its expansion plans for its fifth container terminal and to allow safe passage of bigger vessels.
MMRDA expressed that a height of 51 metres would not be feasible as it would have a huge impact on the cost. However, MMRDA officials expressed willingness to raise the height of the bridge to 31-35 metres (see Figure 9).
On 8 January 2012, Minister of State for Shipping and MP from South Mumbai, Milind Deora told reporters that JNPT would issue a No Objection Certificate to the State Government to go ahead with the project.
Accepting the PPP Model Failure
In May 2012, the MMRDA shortlisted five consortia for the project: Cintra SOMASrei, Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd. OHL, Concessions G.S. Engineering, GMR Infrastructure L&T Ltd. Samsung C&T Corpn., IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. Hyundai, and Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd. Autostrade Indian Infrastructure Development Pvt. Ltd. Vinci Concessions Development V Pte Ltd.
None of the five shortlisted firms bid for the project by the deadline, which was extended August 5th. IRB Hyundai had announced their withdrawal from the bidding process, on 31 July 2013, citing “the government’s apathy and unfriendly attitude towards investors wanting to dev-elop capital intensive infra projects”.
Why Bidders dropped out and the tender had to be scrapped? – Feasibility of the project was cited as one of the concerns since the estimate of 62,000 cars a day was built on the premise and promise of the Navi Mumbai Airport which itself was a question mark.
In January 2013, the Central Government had sanctioned?1,920 crore (US$290 million), which was 20% of the project cost at the time, in viability gap for the MTHL. Under the public private partnership (PPP) basis that the project was proposed to be implemented in, the State Government would also contribute the same amount as the Centre, while the re-maining 60% would have been borne by the developer who won the bid.
The concession period would have been 35 years, which included the time frame of 5 years for the construction.
However, the consortia shortlisted for the project were concerned that 15-20% of the projected traffic for the MTHL, was due to the proposed Navi Mumbai airport, which was heavily delayed.
The MMRDA added provision for a shortfall loan to be made available from the central government if traffic is 20% under the estimate. The project still failed to take off and had to be converted into a cash contract or engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
Switch from PPP to cash-contract
The MMRDA decided to scrap the PPP model for the project in August 2013, and instead execute it on a cash-contract basis. Subsequently, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expressed interest in providing funds for the project. In January 2014, Ashwini Bhide, MMRDA additional metropolitan commissioner, told ( The Indian Express) that the state government had sent a formal proposal to the DEA for its approval to get funds from JICA. In June 2014, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust authorities agreed to pick up a stake in the project (Business Line report).
Closing in on all clearances
The project ran into a major hurdle in April 2015, when the forest advisory committee (FAC) of the MoEF withheld its clearance for the project stating that it affects “existing mangroves as well as the flamingo population”.
The project requires clearance from the Ministry as it will affect 38 hectares of protected mangrove forests and 8.8 hectares of forest land on the Navi Mumbai end. The sea link’s starting point poses a threat to an estimated 20,000-30,000 lesser and greater flamingos and the mangrove habitat. The Sewri mudflats are home to 150 species of birds species, and is listed as an “Important Bird Area”.
The FAC instructed the state government to submit a study report on the project’s impact on the flamingo population, and recommended that the government seek the help of either the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) or the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun to conduct the study. The cost of the study will be borne by the MMRDA, which will also have to come with safeguards to cause the least disturbance to the flamingos at Sewri.
More than 40,000 flamingoes visit Sewri during winter, and environmentalists have been of the opinion that the current MTHL alignment might have negative impact on them and more than 150 species of birds found at the mudflats. (see Figure 10).
MMRDA was looking for an option of taking the alignment at Sewri towards the south by around 500-1,000 metres, as an extra precaution that it will have a negative impact on the flamingoes that come to Sewri and also on the ecology at the mudflats.
The planning authority has said that it would follow majority of the mitigation measures suggested to it by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and if there are any more suggestions, then NGOs and environmentalists can come forward. Additional Metropolitan Commissioner Sanjay Khandare said, “We had a meeting and we discussed whether we could change the alignment of the MTHL on Sewri side, to which JICA officials clearly said that there should not be a change in the alignment.”
A study was conducted and mitigation measures were suggested to MMRDA, which the planning authority has accepted. “We have already made it very clear that we are pro-environment and all the mitigation measures suggested by BNHS would be followed. We would also be taking help from BNHS to implement the measures, and other NGOs who want to help us or suggest anything are most welcome,” added an MMRDA official.
In November 2015, the project was cleared by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). In January 2016, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) granted forest clearance and the Experts’ Appraisal Committee (EAC) attached to the MoEF granted CRZ clearance to the project. The CRZ came with a rider requiring the MMRDA to spend at least 335 crore towards an “environment management programme” (See Figure 11 on Environmental Spend). Fadnavis an-nounced that the project had received all required clearances.
JICA Financing takes root
In February 2016, JICA agreed to loan 80% of the total cost of the project to the State Government at an annual interest rate of 11.4% (See Figure 12)
The MMRDA will bear 1.2% of the project cost, and the remaining amount will be borne by the State Government.
Since JICA was unwilling to loan di-rectly to the state Government, the Union Government stood as a guarantor of the loan. As part of the agreement between JICA and the State Government, 2 rescue lanes will be added to the proposed plan for the MTHL, and a 4 km stretch of the bridge will be constructed as a steel only structure instead of previous plan to build a cement and concrete bridge. The use of steel on this stretch will raise the project cost by ` 4000 crores.
JICA formally approved the funding agreement on 9 May 2016, and the MMRDA began the bidding process the
On 17 April 2015, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari too had his opinion that the construction of a submarine tunnel instead of a sea link could be thought of. Gadkari stated that the tunnel would cost less than a bridge (citing the example of the tunnel between Rotterdam and Belgium), and would also be aesthetically preferable as a sea link would obstruct the city’s coastline. Anyways, he left it to the good counsel of the State Government on this matter.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after a visit to China announced on 20 May 2015, that the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) had expressed interest in the MTHL project. According to Fadnavis, The CCCC put project completion within 34 years of being appointed and will also provide 2% concessional funding for the project.
MTHL Takes off
The MMRDA invited request for qualifications (RFQ) for civil construction of three packages a 10.38 km long bridge section across the Mumbai Bay and Sewri interchange (` 6,600 crore), a 7.807 km long bridge section across Mumbai Bay and Shivaji Nagar inter change (` 4,900 crore) and a 3.613 km long viaduct including interchanges at SH 52, SH54 and NH 4B near Chirle, Navi Mumbai.
The MMRDA received 11 pre qualification bids each for the first and second package, and 17 bids for the third package. The agency stated that a single party would not be awarded the first and second packages together, although any other combination of the three packages would be permitted.
The General Consultants : The MMRDA appointed a consortium formed by AECOM Asia Co Ltd, Dar AlHandsah and TY Lin International as the general consultant for the project on 26 November 2016. According to UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, “The General Consultants appointed for the MTHL project will engage in various activities such as to help MMRDA organise prebid meetings, examine bid documents, secure various permissions from government, semi-gover-nment, examine concept designs, monitor construction of the project and ensure quality of the work among other things.”
With the Prime Minister having laid the foundation stone for the project on 24 December 2016 not much time was lost in bids. After evaluating the bids, in January 2017, the MMRDA shortlisted a total of 29 contractors for the three packages and floated tenders for the request for proposal (RFP) stage, the final stage of the bidding process. The agency fixed 5 April 2017 as the final date for submissions of the RFP bids.
The MMRDA plans to award contracts for the project by June 2017. Construction is expected to begin by October 2017 and complete within 5 years.
Of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) short-listed 29 contractors for the three packages of the 22-km-long Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, 7 contractors each are for the first two packages and 15 for the third package.
The shortlisted bidders include Larsen and Toubro (L&T), HCC, Shapoorji Pallonji , Daweoo Engineering, Afcons Infrastructure, IL&FS Transportation Networks, China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company, Simplex Infrastructures, Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Company, and NCC Limited. They will have to give Request for Proposal (RfP) by April 5,2017.
A consortium of Reliance Infrastructure and Russian company Volgomost, which had filed Request for Quotation (RfQ) last year, did not figure in any of the shortlists. This was the second time after 2008 that Reliance Infrastructure filed bid for the project. It had emerged the lowest bidder by quoting a concession period of 9 years and 11 months for the project. On the other hand, Reliance Industries Limited had quoted a concession period of 75 years.
MMRDA official said that the three civil packages comprised construction of
– 10.380 km long bridge section across the Mumbai Bay and Sewri interchange
– 7.807 km long bridge section across Mumbai Bay and Shivaji Nagar inter change
– 3.613 km long viaduct including interchanges at state highway 52 and at state highway 54 and at national highway 4B near Chilre in Navi Mumbai.
The project entails an investment of Rs 17,750 crore of which MMRDA is expected to get 80 per cent loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Of the total length, 16.5 km would be a bridge, and the remaining would be on the coast at Sewri and Nhava.
The 7 contractors for Package-1 are – consortium consisting of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, Fluor Australia and Shapoorji Pallonji, consortium consisting of Daweoo Engineering & Construction and Tata Projects, consortium consisting of Gayatri Projects and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company, consortium consisting of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) and SK Engineering & Construction, consortium consisting of IL&FS Transportation Networks and SP Singla Constructions, consortium consisting of ITD Cementation India, Simplex Infrastructures, Italian Thai Development Public Company, Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Company and JV comprising Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and IHI Infrastructure Systems Company.
The seven contractors for Package-2 are consortium consisting of Afcons Infrastructure, Fluor Australia, and Shapoorji Pallonji, consortium consisting of Daweoo Engineering & Construction Company and Tata Projects, consortium consisting of Gayatri Projects and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company, consortium consisting of HCC and SK Engineering & Construction Company, consortium consisting of IL&FS Engineering and Ranjit Buildcon, consortium consisting of ITD Cementation India, Simplex Infrastructures , Italian Thai Development Public Company and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Company and consortium consisting of L&T and IHI Infrastructure Systems Company.
Further, the 15 contractors short listed for Package-3 are consortium consisting of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, Fluor Australia and Shapoorji Pallonji & Company, consortium consisting of Gayatri Projects and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company, consortium consisting of HCC and SK Engineering & Construction Company, consortium consisting of IL&FS Engineering & Construction Company and IL&FS Transportation Networks, consortium consisting of ITD Cementation India, Thakur Infraprojects and JM Mhatre Infra, consortium consisting of JMC Infraprojects (India) and China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Bureau Group Company, JV comprising Ranjit Buildcon and Royal Infra Engineering. This apart L&T,
J Kumar Infraprojects, Navayuga Engineering Company, NCC Limited., brascon Huarte Lain SA and Constructora De Proyectos Viales De Mexico SACVD, Simplex Infrastructures and Singla Constructions have also been shortlisted for this package.
MTHL Plan – What all will it have
The Sections – 16.5 km of the MTHL will be in the sea and 5.5 km on land. The MTHL will be constructed in three sections:
1. A 10.38 km long bridge, spanning across Thane Creek and Sewri Interchange.
2. A 7.807 km long bridge portion across Thane Creek and the Shivaji Nagar interchange
3. A 3.613 km long viaduct and interchanges that connect State Highways 52 and 54 and National Highway 4B at Chirle, Navi Mumbai.
The Land – Project requires 130 hectares of land. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) contributed 88 hectares and the Mumbai Port Trust handed over 13 hectares. The remaining land is privately owned. According to MMRDA officials, land owners will be given the same compensation package as that given in the Navi Mumbai International Airport project.
In October 2016, the MMRDA agreed to pay MbPT a total of ` 1000 crores in instalments over the course of 30 years as rent for using the MbPT’s land for construction of ramps for the MTHL on the Mumbai side.
Metro lines Augmentation?
Initially, there were plans to have a dual metro line below the road lanes on the bridge. The metro Line was to be ex-tended to the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport and connected to the proposed Ranjanpada-Sewood-Kharkopar corridor of the Navi Mumbai Metro and the proposed Sewri-Prabhadevi corridor of the Mumbai Metro.
However, the MMRDA scrapped plans for the metro line in 2012, and decided to build only a road bridge. A senior MMRDA official stated, “A detailed study has revealed that laying the foundation for the bridge with provisions for two metro lanes would hike costs instead of save money. Hence, it will be feasible to have a separate bridge for the metro in the future.” Another reason given was that the Navi Mumbai International Airport and Sewri-Prabhadevi corridor of the Mumbai Metro were still a long way from completion.
MTHL project cost has risen by a whopping 350%. The cause is attributed to ex-traordinary delay coupled with change in design and incurrence of mandatory ex-penses towards environmental & rehabilitation conformances to be complied with. (See Figures 13 & 14 )
Ever since the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project was first made public for implementation between Sewri and Nhava (Chirle), the price of the project has increased by around 350 per cent.
Unfortunately, it is the common people who will have to foot the bill either directly (through toll) or indirectly (through various taxes).
Back in 2005, when the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had first floated bids to get it constructed on the basis of public-private partnership (PPP), the estimates were pegged at ` 4,000 crore.
Thereafter, there has been a steady rise in the cost, with it now reaching at over ` 17,500 crore (plus). The primary factors in increase in the price are due to delay in project implementation, resulting in an increase in input costs as well as changes to the earlier design.
The earlier MSRDC plan was to have a 2+2 lane or four-lane sea link, but the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) redesigned the 22-km bridge and had six lanes (3 in either direction). Now yet another lane has been added. The seventh lane will be reserved for emergencies. This additional lane alone has resulted in the project cost shooting up by around ` 3,000 crore.
Additionally, the provision for contingency fund, too, has been doubled from the earlier 5 per cent of the project cost to 10 per cent. The third important factor be-hind price rise is the change in construction technique for girders, from concrete to iron and steel. This has translated in another additional outlay by approximately ` 2,500 crore.
In 2016 end, the project cost estimate stood at ` 17,700 crores.
“Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be funding 85 per cent of the project cost of over ` 17,000 crore,” said MMRDA additional metropolitan commissioner Sanjay Khandare.
The work was being planned to be completed by 2019, when the first phase of planned Navi Mumbai International Airport, too, is expected to be ready. This date is expected to shift to 2021.
Although three connectors were proposed, the MMRDA plans to only construct the Worli-Sewri connector initially. According to Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA, “To construct the other ramps, the alignment will pass through BDD chawls. Redevelopment of BDD chawls is being considered by the state, so we will take up work on the other ramps at a later date.”
Eastern Freeway: The Eastern Freeway is a 16.9 km long controlledaccess freeway, that connects P D’Mello Road in South Mumbai to the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) at Ghatkopar.
Worli Sewri connector: The Sewri Worli connector would connect the BandraWorli Sea Link and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link. A new bridge between Worli and Sewri 4.5 km long and cable stayed was planned at cost ` 490 crore (US$73 million). The ground status is not known though participation to bids invited was there.
Cost to Customer = Toll
In 2012, the MMRDA proposed tolls for the MTHL as ` 175 for cars, ` 265 for light commercial vehicles, ` 525 for buses and trucks and ` 790 for heavy axle vehicles. JICA, the primary source of funding the project, proposed higher tolls in 2016. In September 2016, it was reported that the toll for the MTHL was likely to remain the same as the figures proposed in 2012, although the estimated cost of the project had doubled since that year (The Indian Express Report).
For the informed customer/user the point to keep in mind is that the nature of fi-nancing of a project influences the user charges. All factors remaining same BOT (on market rate interest) will be higher than Cash-Contract. (on a low interest loan). eg JICA @1%.
MTHL Benefits Real Estate Projects
Significant boost to Real Estate is forecast when MTHL connects Wadala / Dadar East with Navi Mumbai. Real Estate appreciation in both the areas is expected. Wadala, close to Dadar East is notified as one of the top investment destination by Knight Frank.
Investment in large under construction projects like Island City centre (ICC) from Bombay Realty (Wadia Group) , with delivery timelines closer to planned construction of MTHL will be one of the benefactors of the development of MTHL it is said.
The upcoming Eastern Freeway Project will enhance the south-north connectivity. The Top 3 investment destinations in India are expected to be Ulwe, Chembur and Wadala. (Knight Frank) See Figure 15
The last word
Marvels need to emerge out of the Drawing boards and manifest on ground in Real time, to be termed Marvels. Considering that for MTHL now all clearances are through it will take off. The good news is that the much in doubt and delayed Navi Mumbai Airport too has seen the light of the day. On Monday 13th Feb. 2016 GVK led Mumbai International Airports Ltd. (MIAL) has bagged the ` 16,000 crore bid beating GMR Group to build the Project. This will be final relief for MTHL whose feasibility was earlier in question but is guaranteed now with heavy commutes that it will see due to the Airport’s parallel take off. 2021 could see both operational.
The author leads our Delhi bureau. An Engineer and qualified ADR professional (NALSAR alumnus), Sadagopan Seshadri has been a senior Contract Management Pro-fessional in large national & Inter-national Companies. His domain experience is in Building Pro-ducts, Cement plants and Mega Power project execution. He has been an expert visiting faculty and univ. examiner for Contract Management at the SSAA, IP University, New Delhi. Being passionate about Environment Energy & Sustainability he has now turned to sustainable development Themes He is vocal with his views on these areas through his writings.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org