Mumbai Trans Harbour Link

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Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
Trans harbor link animation.jpg
Other name(s) Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link
Carries 6 lane highway
Crosses Thane Creek
Locale Mumbai Metropolitan Region, India
Owner MMRDA
Total length 22 kilometres (14 mi)
Width 27 metres (89 ft)
Design life 100+ years
Construction cost INR93.6 billion (US$1.5 billion)
Opened 2019 (planned)
Toll INR235 (US$3.80) Cars
INR350 (US$5.70) LCV
INR550 (US$8.90) heavy vehicle
Mumbai trans Harbor link.jpg

Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), also known as Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link, is a proposed 22 km, freeway grade road bridge connecting the Indian city of Mumbai with Navi Mumbai, its satellite city. If completed, it would be the longest sea bridge in India.[1] The bridge will begin in Sewri, South Mumbai and cross Thane Creek north of Elephanta Island and will terminate at Chirle village, near Nhava Sheva. The road will be linked to the Mumbai Pune Expressway in the east, and to the proposed Western Freeway in the west. The sea link will contain a 6 lane highway,[2][3][4] which will be 27 meters in width, in addition to edge strip and crash barrier.[5][6] The project is estimated to cost INR11000 crore (US$1.8 billion)[7] and is officially estimated to be completed in 2019, although as of 2014, construction has not begun, tendering has not been completed (despite three attempts) and funding remains uncertain.[8]

The sea link is expected to reduce commuting time between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, and provide direct connectivity to Mumbai Port Trust, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. It will also allow faster travel to Thane, Nashik, Panvel, Pune and southern India and is also expected to boost the economic growth of neighbouring Raigad district and raise real estate prices in the region.[9][10]

History[edit]

Transportation and traffic planning for Greater Bombay was commissioned to Wilbur Smith and Associates in mid-1962. The firm's report, based on extensive studies conducted over 18 months, was handed over to the Union Ministry of Transport on 19 December 1963. Among other projects, the report proposed the construction of a sea link, known as the Uran Bridge, to connect Mumbai with the mainland. However, Smith was unsure of the link's feasibility. Citing poor traffic expectations in Uran even in 1981, his report advised a more detailed study of this connection and recommended waiting until "the Trans-Thana area develops further and more community services are extended to Uran."[11]

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 side-lined by the government, for undisclosed reasons.[12] Another attempt was made in 2005, when the MSRDC invited bids for the project. But bids submitted by the Ambani brothers was considered to be unrealistic.[13] 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 short-listed bidder left, after L&T-Gamon Industries and IFFCO opted out). 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.[14] 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".[12]

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.[13] The media criticized the political feud between the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress coalition, as being responsible for slowing "down the pace of Mumbai's development". 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. 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 decided to hand over the mandate to MMRDA. Following the decision, the MSRDC asked MMRDA to pay INR25 crore (US$4.1 million) if it wanted access to any of the studies 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.[15] The MMRDA appointed Arup Consultancy Engineers and KPMG to conduct the techno-economic feasibility of the MTHL in August 2011.[13] The project will be based on a public-private-partnership model.[16] The project received clearance from Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on 22 October 2012.[17] The Times of India described the MTHL's delay as being "symbolic of all that's wrong with infrastructure planning and implementaion 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".[18]

Initially, there were plans to have a dual metro line below the road lanes on the bridge. The metro Line was to be extended 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 away from completion.[19]

Flamingos and other migratory birds at the Mahul-Sewri mudflats

The project received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on 23 October 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.[20][21] 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.[22] 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).[23] The MTHL received coastal regulation zone clearance from the MoEF on 19 July 2013.[24]

On 31 October 2012, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) granted in-principle approval for the MTHL.[25] The DEA recommended granting INR1920 crore (US$310 million) with a concession period of 35 years for the project.[26] 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 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.[27] 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 Empowered Committee and finally from the Finance Minister.[20] On 9 November 2012, the State Government issued a state-support agreement and a toll notification for the project.[28] The empowered committee approved VGF for MTHL on 12 December 2012.[29] Finance Minister P. Chidambaram cleared the project on 18 January 2013.[30][31][32]

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.[33][34] 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.[35][36][37]

In May 2012, the MMRDA shortlisted five consortia out of six that had expressed interest in the project.[38] They are Cintra-SOMA-Srei, 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.[39] The shortlisted consortia were supposed to submit bids by 24 May 2013, but the deadline was extended to July 5,[40] and again to August 5[41] to give them more time to prepare proposals. However, none of the five shortlisted firms bid for the project by August 5.[42][43] 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 develop capital-intensive infra projects".[44]

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. JICA sanctions loans twice a year, either in April or September. The MMRDA expects to receive a loan of between 60 and 80 percent of the project cost from JICA in September 2014.[45] In June 2014, Business Line reported that Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust authorities had agreed to pick up a stake in the project.[46]

Plan[edit]

16.5 km of the MTHL will be in the sea and 5.5 km on land.[47]

  • Phase I :- A six lane main bridge will be built from Sewri to Nhava Sheva including approaches at grade near Sewri end, interchange at NH4B near Chirle village and underpasses at road and railway crossings. The length of MTHL road project from Sewri to NH4B is 22 km.
  • Phase II:- Dispersal System at Sewri connecting Eastern Freeway and Acharya Donde Marg to MTHL (Sewri interchange).

The MMRDA requires about 130 hectares of land for the project. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) contributed 65 hectares of land, apart from an additional 23 hectares for a casting yard on the mainland side. The Mumbai Port Trust handed over 13 hectares to the MMRDA, of which 9 hectares will be used for a casting yard on the island side. The remaining 20% is private land on the spread across villages Jasai, Gavan and Chirle. MMRDA requires 16 hectares in Jasai, 8 in Gavan and about 4 in Chirle.[48] According to MMRDA officials, land owners will be given the same compensation package as that given in the Navi Mumbai International Airport project.[49]

Cost[edit]

The cost of the MTHL has increased several times. In 2005, the cost of the project was estimated at INR4000 crore. The cost was revised to INR6000 crore in 2008. It was then increased to INR8800 crore in November 2011 and finally to INR9360 crore in August 2012.[50][51] The MMRDA re-evaluated the cost project based on prices prevailing in 2014, and stated that it would be about INR11000 crore (US$1.8 billion). This revised cost was mentioned in the agency's proposal to avail loan from the JICA to construct the MTHL on a cash-contract basis. The cost of the MTHL project has increased by about 175% since 2005, when the state government first attempted to invite bids for the project.[52] The equity component in the project is about 30%, and will be provided by the MMRDA, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. The remaining 70%, the debt component, will be obtained through a loan from the JICA.[53]

In January 2013, the Central Government had sanctioned INR1920 crore (US$310 million), which was 20% of the project cost at the time, in viability gap for the MTHL.[54] Under the public private partnership (PPP) basis that the project was proposed to be implemented in,[55] the State Government would also contribute the same amount as the Centre, while the remaining 60% would have been borne by the developer who won the bid.[20] MTHL will be built on a public private partnership basis,[56] The project would have had an internal rate of return of 15%. The concession period would have been 35 years, which included the time-frame of 5 years for the construction.[57] However, the consortia shortlisted for the project were concerned that 15-20% of the traffic that was expected to use the MTHL, was due to the proposed Navi Mumbai airport, which was heavily delayed. They feared that further delays might lead to a fall in traffic and in revenue from the MTHL. To address the concern, MMRDA modified the Request For Proposal (RFP) to make the project "more bankable and financially more viable". The agency obtained approval for a 10% short-fall loan to the MTHL concessionaire from the Central Government. However, this additional sop to the concessionaire was to be available only in case traffic fell 20% below the estimate, in which case it could take an additional INR963 crore (US$160 million) crore or 10% of the project cost as loan to service existing debt.[54]

Connectors[edit]

Three connectors to the MTHL are proposed to help with traffic dispersal. The MTHL will have dispersals from Sewri to Worli (east-west connector) on the Mumbai-end and from Chirle to the Mumbai Pune Expressway and NH17. On the Mumbai side, the traffic dispersal will be through the Eastern Freeway (at Colaba and Wadala) and from Acharya Dhonde Marg (for West-bound traffic). The proposed Worli-Sewri Bridge will provide connectivity to the Bandra–Worli Sea Link and proposed Western Freeway[58]

Although 3 connectors were initially proposed, the MMRDA plans to only construct the Worli-Sewri connector initially. This was done to reduce the number of project-affected people. 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."[59]

Eastern Freeway[edit]

The Eastern Freeway is a 16.9 km long controlled-access freeway,[60] that connects P D'Mello Road in South Mumbai to the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) at Ghatkopar.

Worli – Sewri connector[edit]

The Sewri – Worli connector is a proposed intermediary between the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and the proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link from Sewri to Nhava Sheva.[61] The elevated four lane road will be the east-west connector that allows motorists from western parts of Mumbai to reach the MTHL at Sewri. A new bridge between Worli and Sewri is scheduled for completion by 2017.[62] It will be 4.5 km long[63] The connector begins at Narayan Hardikar Marg in Worli and meets the MTHL at its Sewri interchange near the Sewri railway station.[59][64] On the way to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, it will cross the Western and Central Lines at Elphinstone Road railway station and Sewri railway station.[65] The elevated road will also have additional ramps on P D'Mello Road, and can be used by motorists from the eastern parts of the city to reach the western side.[66] The project is expected to cost INR490 crore (US$79 million), and be completed in four years.[67]

The bridge will be cable-stayed as pillars for the elevated road cannot be put up in the section near the rail overbridge near the Elphinstone Road railway station because the section has a narrow carriageway. The MMRDA expects the project to be difficult to execute logistically, as it passes through a developed area and crosses the railway tracks more than once.[68] The Sewri-Worli link was initially proposed to cross the 10 railway tracks at Elphinstone and Parel stations at a height of nearly 20 metres, due to the proposed Western Railway Elevated Corridor. However, MMRDA decided to have the connector at the same level as the Elphinstone bridge since constructing an elevated road at 20 metres height was deemed a very difficult task.[30]

The MMRDA received bids from 5 companies to construct the Worli – Sewri connector. They were Simplex Infrastructures Ltd, Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Construction Company, Gammon India and the National Construction Company (NCC). Simplex Infrastructures Ltd quoted the lowest bid (nearly 16-17% below the estimated cost of the project), followed by Larsen & Toubro (14% below the reserve price).[69][70]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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