Worli-Haji Ali sea link stuck in cabinet sub-committee

Even as CM Prithviraj Chavan has indicated that the Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link, part of the ambitious Western Freeway may not take off the fate of the Worli-Haji Ali sea link for which a contract had been signed three years ago is still in a limbo.

The Worli-Haji Ali sea link, the second segment of the Western Freeway, is waiting to be appraised by the state cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure.

"The chief minister has not given any indication about the future of the Worli-Haji Ali sea link. In October last year, we had sent the proposal to the state government to terminate the existing contract and build the sea link on our own. We are waiting for the cabinet sub-committee to appraise it," a senior MSRDC official said.

Only after the committee approves it can the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) scrap the existing contract with Reliance Infrastructure and take up the project on its own.

"The finance department last month reached out to us with some queries and we have sent our replies," the MSRDC official said.

As for the Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link, replying to BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha's demand that its be started at the earliest, the CM had told the Assembly that such capital-intensive projects were impractical and he would instead push for a coastal road in Mumbai.

MSRDC officials say there was no decision taken at the agency level to scrap the Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link, for which a fresh feasibility study had been on until recently.

The Western Freeway was planned more than a decade ago to provide seamless road connectivity from Bandra to Nariman Point. The Bandra-Worli sea link, which took nine years to be constructed, was partially opened to traffic as the first segment of the freeway in 2009.

The other two segments—the Worli-Haji Ali and Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea links—were to follow. Besides, the MSRDC has also decided to take up a separate Bandra-Versova sea link to provide contiguous connectivity to Versova.

In 2010, the MSRDC had signed a contract with Reliance Infrastructure to implement the Worli-Haji Ali sea link on public private partnership, but the construction never took off owing to issues such as viability gap funding and land for the casting yard. MSRDC now wants to securitize the Bandra-Worli sea link and use the funds to execute the Worli-Haji Ali link as a cash contract.

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