The ambitious Rs.9,630-crore sea link project to connect peninsular Mumbai with Navi Mumbai has moved a step closer to reality with the Centre offering a loan to the project’s developer to cover any financial shortfall.
Delayed by at least 10 years, work on the Nhava-Sewri sea link project, also known as Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), is now expected to start by the year-end or early next year.
The ongoing process to shortlist a developer is expected to be successful this time round owing to the central government’s offer of a 10% shortfall loan, which is in addition to its Rs.1,900 crore share in the project’s cost. The shortfall loan will cover the developer in case the traffic projections for the project turn out to be wrong, affecting toll revenue. Bids for MTHL had failed three times in the past due to financial issues.
The project promises to decongest roads in the island city by offering easy access to Navi Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Goa and the proposed Navi Mumbai airport.
“The empowered committee of the department of economic affairs has approved 10% shortfall loan to the final bidder. The decision will make the project bankable and financially more viable as it will ensure that the developer, who will invest in the project, sustains economically if the projected traffic on the link falls below its 80% mark especially during the first seven years of operations,” said Ashwini Bhide, joint metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA. About 60,000 vehicles are expected to use the sea link daily.
“The decision will ensure that the bidding is successful this time,” said MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar.