MTHL attracts 26 bidders

The trans-harbour link connecting Sewri and Nhava Sheva has attracted 26 bidders including Russian and Chinese companies. Twenty-six companies, including Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure which has teamed up with Russian bridge construction specialist company OJSC Volgomost, HCC, Gamon India, AFCONS Infrastructure, Shapoorji Palonji and Company, and Tata Projects, NCC, Larsen & Tourbo, and China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Bureau Group, have submitted requests for qualification (RFQ) for the Rs.17,750-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project.
A RFQ refers to the pre-procurement stage of a proposal. Those who respond successfully to it are included in the subsequent request for proposals stage. The 22 kilometre long six lane sea link, which was originally conceived in early eighties is expected to reduce travel time between Mumbai and Pune by one hour.
Of the total length, 16.5 km would be a bridge, and the remaining would be on the coast at Sewri and Nhava. The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) had invited bids for three packages under the project.
The first package is 10.83 km bridge over Thane creek and Sewri, the second package is 7.80 km  bridges over Thane Creek and Shivaji Nagar and 3.61 kilometre viaduct.
The MMRDA is expected to short-list bidders by middle of next month, after which short-listed bidders will be asked to submit their financial proposals. The contracts for the projects are expected to be finalised by end of this year and work is expected to start in first part of 2017.
This is a fourth attempt by the state government to bid out the ambitious sea link project. In 2005, the state tried to bid out the project on built operate and transfer (BOT) basis and rival Ambani brothers were the only bidders for the project.
The state government scrapped the bids by both brothers calling them unrealistic. While the Anil Ambani-led R-Infra claimed it will able to recover the cost of project through toll in 10 years, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries claimed it will require 75 years.
Then in 2008 state government tried to bid out the project on cash contract basis but due to financial meltdown followed by collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, no bidders came forward for such a complex project.
In 2013, attempt was made to bid out the project once again on BOT basis but no bidders turned up. Now the Devendra Fadnavis-led government is pushing for this ambitious sea link project.
This time around state government is bidding out project on cash contract basis. An MMRDA official said that RFQs received for three civic packages were under examination.Thereafter, MMRDA would select qualified bidders who will later be asked to file request for proposal (RFP) by mid October. The official said of the Rs.17,750 crore, nearly 80% loan will come from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the balance funds to be organised by the state government and MMRDA.
The other consortia, who have filed RFQ, include IHI Infrastructure System, Hindustan Construction Company Ltd & SK Engineering & Construction Company, Soma Enterprise,IL&FS Transportation Networks & SP Singla Constructions, Daewoo E&C & Tata Projects, a JV comprising ITD Cementation India Ltd, Simplex Infrastructures Limited.

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