Plans to revive passenger water transport on east coast could ease burden on trains, roads
If the Maharashtra government’s move to revive passenger water transport on the east coast of Mumbai goes as per plan, travelling from Navi Mumbai or Alibaug to south Mumbai would not be the same anymore.
One can bid goodbye to crowded trains and congested roads, and opt for the sea instead. Just hop on with your vehicles onto steamers and cross over to the mainland, cutting the current travel time from two-three hours to only about 40 minutes from Alibaug, and 90 minutes travel from Navi Mumbai to about 30 minutes.
The project, a bid to expand connectivity to Navi Mumbai and Alibaug, a popular weekend beach destination located 100 kilometres off Mumbai, is expected to cost around Rs 300 crore.
After two attempts of taking up the project with Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) at the helm failed, this time the state government has entrusted Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) with the task of developing the project, with City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) as the other two partners.
According to the plan, the project will have two routes — one between Ferry Wharf in south Mumbai and Nerul in Navi Mumbai, and the other between Ferry Warf and Mandwa, a beach village in Raigarh district close to Alibaug. Initially, there was a plan to start similar services on the west coast as well, which would cover Borivali, Marve, Versova, Juhu, Bandra and Nariman Point. However, for now, it is understood that the government has gone cold on that plan.
The east coast project, on the other hand, is being planned as a roll-on/roll-off (RORO) project, which will allow commuters to hop in and hop off with their vehicles on steamers and cross over to the mainland.
Senior government officials told FE that a memorandum of understanding was signed between MMB, Cidco and MbPT in June for the project. While Cidco, which is also the nodal agency in charge of development of the Navi Mumbai airport, will be developing the Nerul terminal, MbPT will develop Ferry Wharf terminal in Mumbai Port (south Mumbai), and MMB will be responsible for Mandwa terminal.
The project is being taken up on an EPC model, after previous attempts to develop it on BOT did not attract much interest from companies, who were unwilling to do both construction and operations, said a senior government official. “This time around, the project is more viable as we are investing and developing infrastructure, and then bids will be called from boat and ferry operators to run the operations,” the official said.
While MMB wants to float tenders for appointing contractors for construction at Mandwa by the end of the month, officials at MMB say they would want Cidco and MbPT to also match the timelines for floating tenders so that the project takes off in a coordinated manner. “We are hoping that the construction begins by December,” said an official. It will take about over a year for the construction of terminals to be complete, he said.