How the West was won — by road and rail

ksenia kondratieva Mumbai | Updated on December 27, 2018

A file photo of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority conducting a trial run of the phase 1 Monorail route from Wadala to Chembur   -  Emmanual Yogini

A slew of transportation infrastructure projects will give a boost to Maharashtra and Gujarat

Western India is expected to get a major boost with many a road and transportation projects being implemented across Maharashtra and Gujarat.

As the Central government is moving ahead with its ambitious Bharatmala road and highways project proposed in 2017, the region is posed to gain from faster and smoother connectivity. The programme aims at developing over 83,000 km of roads in the next five years at a cost of nearly ₹7 lakh crore.

Maharashtra and Gujarat account for large stretches of roads, expressways and economic corridors planned under Bharatmala Phase-I stage: Around 4,580 km and 2,000 km, respectively, out of the total 24,800 km planned for the entire country.

Fillip to transportation

As the programme focusses on optimising efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through effective interventions like development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways, Western Region, which is India’s major manufacturing and logistics hub, is posed to gain even further significance in country’s economic growth.

Maharashtra is aiming to develop infrastructure projects worth over ₹1 lakh crore between 2019 and 2022, with majority of work happening in the road and metro sectors. While this includes projects announced almost a decade back, including Mumbai’s iconic Coastal Road project and Mumbai metro lines, industry experts note that in the past one year Maharashtra has made significant progress in terms of speeding up tendering activity for these projects as well as getting approvals and finalising land acquisition processes.

Construction of the long-delayed coastal road at estimated cost of ₹15,000 crore has finally commenced and the first phase is expected to be completed by 2023. Infrastructure majors L&T, HCC and Reliance infrastructure have won separate packages of the project.

The Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, officially known as the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg project, is another ambitious projects that would contribute significantly to the value of infrastructure investments in the State. The road will pass through 10 districts, 26 sub-districts and 392 villages reducing the travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur from the existing 18 hours to just eight hours and contributing to the socio-economic development of the adjoining areas.

With most of the land acquisition for the project being completed, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corp (MSRDC), the nodal agency for the ₹45,000-crore project, is yet to get environmental clearances. According to MSRDC, as many as 18 infrastructure majors, including Reliance Infrastructure, Megha Engineering, NCC, L&T, Sadbhav Engineering, PNC Infratech, Afcon Infrastructure and others have bid for various packages. The entire 700-km-long project is divided into 16 packages.

Rail projects on fast track

Earlier this year, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had suggested a high-speed railway line could be build in parallel to the expressway.

Meanwhile, work on India’s first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, a $17-billion project financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is expected to kick off in 2019, although the project’s deadline of August 2022 remains highly optimistic, according to experts. The project may further get delayed due to land acquisition issues and farmers’ protests.

Another significant and much delayed project — the Mumbai trans-harbour link (MTHL) connecting greater Mumbai and Navi Mumbai via a 22-km sealink — is expected to get better visibility before India’s general elections in May.

The work on metro projects across Maharashtra and Gujarat has been intensified in the past two years. In Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month inaugurated work on the Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan (Metro 5) and the Dahisar-Mira Road- Bhayander (Metro 9) routes taking the ambitious Mumbai Metro project forward.

Several metro corridors are being constructed at the moment, including Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Metro-3), Wadala-Kasarvadavali (Metro 4), Dahisar-DN Nagar (Metro-2A), DN Nagar-Mankhurd (Metro-2B), Andheri (East)- Dahisar (Metro-7) and Swami Samarthnagar-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli (Metro-6).

The Maharashtra Cabinet on December 27 gave nod for the Kasarvadavali-Gaikmukh Metro route (Metro 4A) estimated at ₹949 crore. The new metro line is expected to cut the travel time between South Mumbai and Thane.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is hoping to start trial runs for two Metro lines — Metro 2A (Dahisar to DN Nagar) and Metro 7 (Dahisar East to Andheri East) — by December 2019. The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the 33.5-km fully-underground Metro route between Colaba and Seepz, is planning to complete 80 per cent of the tunnelling work by December 2019 and commission it by 2021.

While the Nagpur Metro and Pune Metro projects developed by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (Maha-Metro) are moving according to proposed time-line, Maharashtra could get a new metro project, this time in Nashik.

Earlier this month, the State government has initiated the process of appointing a nodal agency for carrying pout a feasibility study for the project.

In Gujarat, the Metro-Express Link for Gandhinagar Ahmedabad (MEGA) is expected to become operational by March 2019, according to State authorities.

The trial run of the metro scheduled for January as the first coaches have been shipped from South Korea.

The Ahmedabad Metro project comprising two corridors and 32 stations, will connect four corners of the city.

The 18.52-km-long elevated North-South Corridor will run from Motera Stadium to APMC and will have 15 stations. Connecting Vastral Gaam to Thaltej Gaam, the East-West Corridor will be 21.16-km-long with a nearly 6 km underground section will feature 17 stations.

Crisil has estimated that India would needs to spend around ₹50 lakh crore between fiscals 2018 and 2022 to build out infrastructure, and transportation projects would contribute a major chunk of these investments. While the road and transportation sector has seen growth in public spending, continuation of proactive policies in order to unclog the stalled projects and further focus on recalibrated PPP models, including the hybrid annuity model (HAM) and toll-operate-transfer (TOT), could also attract private investments in the transportation sector.

Published on December 27, 2018

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