‘Slums come back due to politics’
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At a time when certain large infrastructure projects are nearing completion and others are taking off from the drawing board, Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana talks to The Indian Express newsroom about issues such as planning, scope for PPP projects in the city, coordination between agencies and the menace of slums.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: We are still new to PPP in infrastructure. Isn't it true that the world over, PPP projects have also resulted in people paying higher service charges? How has the experience in Mumbai been?
RA: The advantage of PPP is 60 per cent or more of the cost is borne by the concessionaire, it is balanced by the loss of revenue to the state. But upfront money is available and the government can spread its resources. As far as the disadvantages are concerned, you must have an efficient concessionaire. Many times, in a PPP project you end up with a single or two bids. In Mumbai, the ridership is so heavy PPP projects can be successful.
MANASI PHADKE: How has MMRDA's experience with PPP been?
RA: Not too good. Right of way was an issue we weren't able to resolve faster. From the concessionaire's side, may be the efficiency could have been better in terms of putting in sufficient resources.
MANASI PHADKE: Do you feel political will plays an important part in getting projects started?
RA: For large projects, yes, whether it is the sea link or MTHL, or Metro. We can only say this is what we want to do. For example, Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro is going to cost us Rs 24,000 crore. It's an underground project unlike Lines 1 and 2. If the Chief Minister says 'yes', we will go ahead and do it.
SAGNIK CHOWDHURY: There have been quite a few accidents on MMRDA project sites. What is the authority doing about it?