Monday, August 9, 2010

Wave of optimism for sea transport

Upto 30,000 City Commuters Expected To Use Western Seafront Daily

Mumbai: After several hitches, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) officials are saying that the west coast Passenger Water Transport (PWT) project is finally sailing along. The two technical bids of Pratibha Constructions, the only bidder in the latest round, have been opened and the financial bid will be matched with government estimates next week. The number of years the bidders expect to operate the project before returning it to MSRDC will also be looked into.

Commuters in the western suburbs and island city are staring at the possibility of using the sea route within a year to two years if the latest attempt to kickstart the project, estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore, goes ahead. An earlier contract was cancelled and the second round of bidding saw three extensions.

The first six terminals for the catamarans and hovercraft would be at Nariman Point, Bandra, Juhu, Versova, Marve and Borivli. Work is expected to begin after the monsoon, said MSRDC officials.

The state government has environmental clearances from the Centre and also encroachment-free lands at points where the PWT terminals would be built. As per the blueprint finalised by the MSRDC, the average travel time between Nariman Point and Borivili would be 35 to 40 minutes, depending on the speed of the catamaran or hovercraft used. Tickets between the two jetties would cost Rs 50 to Rs 150 depending on the vessels’ speed. Hovercraft are generally faster than catamarans.

A one-way journey on the Bandra-Worli sea-link costs Rs 50, while a two-way pass is Rs 75.

“None of the six coastal lands we have received from the Mumbai Maritime Board for the terminals are encroached. All environmental clearances are ready. The only thing remaining is the issuance of work orders. Work can start after the monsoon,’’ said a senior state government official.

The service is expected to be ultimately used by 25,000 to 35,000 passengers daily. “Though tickets will be on the higher side, it will reduce the number of cars on the western road corridor of the city, pollution and fuel consumption,’’ said an MSRDC official. According to him more than 1.5 lakh vehicles travel on the western corridor daily.

MSRDC sources said around 35 to 40% of the total investment would be spent on buying catamarans and hovercraft, while the remaining would be spent on infrastructure at terminals. The Nariman Point terminal would be behind the NCPA.

In the initial phases, seven catamarans and five hovercraft would be run. Catamarans have 100-passenger capacities, while hovercraft can accommodate 25 to 50 passengers. Eventually, a total of 20 vessels would be used.

According to Pratibha’s proposal, services would run 15 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Vessels would run at 15- to 30-minute intervals during morning and evening peak hours and 30-to 60-minute intervals at other times. On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, vessels would run every two hours.

The east and west coast water transport projects were transferred from the Mumbai Maritime Board to MSRDC in 1994-95.



Technical bids have been opened and the financial bid will be opened next week. Final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure after scrutiny by the MSRDC board MSRDC expects work to begin on the Public Water Transport project in October For the first 22 to 24 months, the Nariman Point to Juhu section would be built

In the next 30 months, the Juhu to Borivli section would be completed

In 2008, a contract was awarded to Satyagiri Shipping for the west coast transport project. But it was cancelled by the state after legal controversies and consortium issues

In 2009, MSRDC invited new bids. Around 26 leading companies, including Tata Infrastructure, India Bulls, D B Realty, Reliance and Pratibha Constructions, bought applications and demanded extensions on deadlines thrice

The last deadline was in July 2010 and only Pratibha Constructions gave bids

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