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Maharashtra plans to invest Rs2 trillion in transport systems

Maharashtra plans to invest Rs2 trillion in transport systems

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government plans to spend in 20 years or more, starting 2011, around Rs2 trillion in transport systems for Mumbai in an attempt to improve the city’s poor transportation infrastructure.

Transportation is the theme of the new master plan—a document laying out the infrastructure building priorities of the local administration—that is ready and, according to Sanjay Ubale, secretary, general administration, government of Maharashtra who is in charge of projects related to the city, is expected to be approved by the government within the next two months. “We are ready to present it to the state cabinet and once the cabinet approval comes, it will become effective," said Ubale.

The master plan, termed Mumbai Business Plan 2031, was drawn up by Canada-based consultants LEA International Ltd and LEA Associates South Asia Pvt. Ltd. The current master plan, which is focused on land use patterns, expires in 2011.

The new plan envisages the creation of 27 metro and suburban railway lines, passenger water transport (PWT) systems and exclusive bus lanes. According to the draft plan, by 2031, Mumbai will be home to 34 million people, up from the current 12 million, with the working population increasing to around 15 million. “The biggest challenge in the city is to map the movement of these people and to provide transportation avenues for such massive numbers," said Ubale, who has closely been involved with the drafting of the plan.

“The new master plan with its emphasis on transportation infrastructure will give Mumbai the teeth it lacks in competing with other destinations in India for investments. Once these projects become operational, commuting in the city will no longer be a logistics nightmare," said Niranjan Hiranandani, chairman of Hiranandani Developers Ltd.

The new plan is based on a survey of 66,000 households across the 4,355 sq. km Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and it estimates that nearly 15-20% of the city’s population will be living in what is known as the “cross harbour" area by 2030.

The master plan envisages extending the reach of the city’s transport system to Alibag and Rewas. Six of the railway lines it plans will run in the “cross-harbour" area.

The master plan also envisages the creation of 1,572km of eight-lane highways, 300km of exclusive bus lanes (to help buses move rapidly through traffic), and an inland water way project, which will be ready for use by 2016 and ferry 10,000 passengers each way during peak traffic hours.

Some of the projects are in the work-in-progress stage. “Though these projects were conceived independently of the master plan, they have now been incorporated into it since the focus of the new plan is transport infrastructure," said Ubale.

While 40% of the funding for the projects are expected to come from the private sector through the public-private partnership model, 12-15% will come from market borrowings by urban local bodies. There are five municipal corporations and 15 municipal councils in the extended MMR region in addition to the Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai, which has jurisdiction over 468 sq. km.

The state government is expected to contribute around 25% of the project cost through the urban renewal fund being set up by the state government, while 20% will come from Union government funding. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the World Bank have already conducted feasibility studies on several of these projects.

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