An appeal has been made at the highest level so that no last-minute changes are made in the alignment of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), a process that may inflate costs and further delay the project.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that it will be difficult to consider the request of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and alter the alignment of the MTHL at this stage to accommodate the port’s expansion plans, officials at the city’s development authority said.
Rahul Asthana, metropolitan commissioner at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) confirmed the development. “The CM has sent a letter to the Prime Minister. The alignment was finalised around 1984-85. We have been talking about MTHL for nearly a year. JNPT never approached us regarding any changes in the alignment until last month,” Asthana said.
The JNPT had approached the MMRDA asking the development authority to raise the height of MTHL to 51 metres from the proposed 25 metres for a 300-metre span. Port authorities claimed that this was required as the viaduct was coming in way of the JNPT expansion plans.
A height of 51 metres would be equivalent to a 17-storey building, assuming one storey is three metres high.
“We have tried to emphasise that at a time when we are in the process of issuing request for proposal documents, it will be impossible to change the alignment as it will have an impact on the cost and approvals will be required to be taken again,” said Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA.
After a wait of almost seven months, the Union finance ministry’s empowered committee had last month approved viability gap funding for the 22-km MTHL at 20 per cent. The total project cost is Rs 9,630 crore. The MMRDA is awaiting a nod from the committee and then the finance minister so that bids can be invite from the five shortlisted consortia for the project, which has gone through two failed rounds of tendering in the past.
The project, which promises to decongest the island city by establishing a link across the Mumbai harbour, has been in the planning stage for more than three decades.