The union government today sanctioned a 20 per cent viability gap funding of Rs1,920 crore for the Mumbai trans-harbour link (MTHL), which will link Navi Mumbai with mainland Mumbai.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) now expects to start work on the Rs9,630 crore project and complete it in a time-bound manner. The 22-km sea bridge is aimed at decongesting the city and promoting growth in Raigad district.
The road link will greatly simplify travelling to the outskirts of the city like Panvel, where the new international airport is coming up.
The six-lane MTHL will be built on the public-private partnership model. The private partner will be chosen through bidding.
The link will connect Sewri in South Mumbai with Chirle in Navi Mumbai and decongest the eastern corridor as well as the Thane creek bridge, which connects Mankhurd with Vashi.
"MTHL is expected to carry over 62,000 passenger cars in 2019 and an annual growth of 5 per cent is estimated. About 70 hectares of land has been acquired for the project and 28 hectares will be acquired soon," said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana.
He added that bids will be finalised by the end of May 2013 and after financial closure, the construction of this bridge will begin by October. It is likely to be completed in five years.
"As part of the project, MMRDA will also build a connector between Worli and Sewri which is likely to cost about Rs600 crore. The 4.3-km Sewri-Worli (East-West) elevated connector running from Sewri Railway station to Dr Annie Besant Road (Worli) will provide east connectivity at the Sewri Interchange of the MTHL.
"The Detailed Project Report for this elevated connector is nearing completion. The third major connector for traffic dispersal is the Chirle-NH 17-Mumba-Pune Expressway Connector. The feasibility study for this project is also under way," Asthana said.
Many Indian and international companies participated in the pre-qualification bids for MTHL, and MMRDA shortlisted five consortiums - Cintra-Soma-Srei, Gammon-OHL Concessions-GS Engineering, GMR-L&T-Samsung, IRB-Hyundai, and Tata Realty & Infrastructure-Autostrade-Vinci Concessions.
MMRDA is also on the verge of completing another major project - the Eastern Freeway, which will link south Mumbai to the eastern suburbs. The 17-km long Eastern Freeway from Orange Gate (South Mumbai) to Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road is likely to be completed in May this year.
With the maximum VGF cap being 40 per cent, 20 per cent would be borne by the MMRDA. The remaining cost is expected to be raised by the consortium that wins the project with 70 per cent debt and 30 per cent equity.
MMRDA has offered to help the consortium to get soft loans from financial institutions. "We would help the shortlisted bidders in quoting less VGF," said Asthana.
He said that environmental and other clearances for the project have already been obtained.
Of the 98 hectares required to be acquired for the project, 28 hectares from three villages in Uran are yet to be acquired. Ashwini Bhide, joint commissioner, said the issues would be sorted out once the compensation package is finalised. "We will offer the same package finalised by CIDCO for the Navi Mumbai Airport project," she said.