The Maharashtra government’s capex for the current year may have been pegged at levels lower than in 2016-17, but a Rs 2-lakh crore makeover for Mumbai is on track.
The Maharashtra government’s capex for the current year may have been pegged at levels lower than in 2016-17, but a Rs 2-lakh crore makeover for Mumbai is on track. A special purpose vehicle — Maha-Infra — will soon be set up to aggregate land that will be securitised to raise resources. More than Rs 80, 000 crore has been earmarked for metro projects while the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), connecting the mainland to Navi Mumbai across a 22-km long stretch, will be built at a cost of Rs 17,750 crore. There is also an ambitious Rs 15,000-crore plan to reclaim land all along Mumbai’s coastline to build a 30-km long coastal road running from its southern tip to the northern suburbs. Kaustubh Dhavse, officer on special duty to chief minister, is Devendra Fadnavis’ chosen man to oversee some 30-odd projects in Maharashtra, including half a dozen in Mumbai.
Dhavse says the government will contribute to the equity of the projects so that banks are comfortable lending to them. Most of the funds will be sourced from multilateral agencies such as JICA. A plan has been mooted for another cable-stayed bridge, estimated at Rs 7,500 crore, to connect Bandra with Versova, similar to the Bandra-Worli sea link. An eight-lane, super communication expressway, the first of its kind in India, estimated to cost Rs 46,000 crore,will connect Mumbai with Nagpur. The improved infrastructure should help de-congest the city’s roads to which there has been little addition in recent years; currently 30 lakh vehicles ply on the 2,000 km of the network everyday.
The travel time from Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai to the international airport at Andheri is estimated to come down to just under an hour from an hour and forty minutes currently. Commuters will have it easier since around 170 km of metro lines have been tendered over the last two years with the work having begun on three lines. Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman, Feedback Infra, points out cities like Mumbai must gear up with a burst of infrastructure. “Roads, bridges need to be built to improve connectivity, given the increasing urbanisation even if not all projects are always viable, “Chatterjee says explaining that a major part of other developmental activity is based on infrastructure development.
In other words, there are several indirect benefits of creating infrastructure which cannot always be quantified. The Maharashtra government may or may not levy user charges depending on whether it would lead to a slowing down in traffic. Abhaya Agarwal, Partner ., EY India, points out that tolling in urban areas is not always helpful as it leads to congestion. “”Large infrastructure projects add significantly to the GDP, the typical multiplier being 2.5 to three times for developing countries like India and when a congested city becomes de-congested, the impact is even higher,” he told FF.
Kshitish Nadgauda, managing director, Asia, at infra consultancy firm Louis Berger, points out that typically, cities opt for a ring-road that will carry vehicular traffic around the city with various radial cross roads providing connectivity to the downtown areas. “The coastal road and the Bandra-Versova sea link will form a similar high-capacity road network around Mumbai. The only difference is that the unique shape of Mumbai forces us to build part of this ring-road system out at sea,” Nadgauda said .