Mumbai: In a boost for the infrastructure development in Mumbai and the metropolitan region, the state cabinet on Saturday allowed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to raise ₹60,000 crore debt to fund projects like the metro railway, coastal road and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).
“The MMRDA is implementing several projects in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) like the metro, flyovers and roads to reduce traffic congestion and the MTHL. We have approved raising ₹60,000 crore as debt, and the state government will stand guarantee for the first tranche of ₹12,000 crore. This will prevent delays and ensure that the projects are completed on time,” said chief minister Eknath Shinde briefing the media after the meeting of the state cabinet on Saturday.
S.V.R. Srinivas, Commissioner, MMRDA, told HT that they expect to raise this ₹60,000 crore from the market in the next four to five years. “(This money will be raised from) different institutions… the state government has given a guarantee for ₹12,000 crore,” he said, stating this debt would also include bonds.
The MMRDA has been raising funds for infrastructure projects by borrowing from various agencies such as World Bank and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). For the new lot, it will tap the funding agencies as well as the market by floating bonds.
The decision also comes from the push the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis-led government is giving to the infrastructure projects.
During his previous tenure as chief minister, Fadnavis played a major role in putting on track various infrastructure projects in the MMR. He also worked out a plan for building a network of metro routes in the region.
The projects have been going at a slow pace due to the paucity of funds as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. Shinde-Fadnavis duo has now decided to give it a big push for which they have allowed MMRDA to borrow from funding agencies as well as the market.
The stress on infrastructure also assumes political significance since the polls for most civic bodies in the MMR–Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli and Vasai-Virar–are scheduled to be held in August-September. Besides, about 50 members of the assembly are elected from urban parts of the MMR and the majority of them are with Shinde-Fadnavis. Shiv Sena and BJP had dominated the MMR in the 2019 assembly polls.
Srinivas said the MMRDA would use the funds to begin work on new projects like the 13-km long Thane coastal road that will connect Gaimukh to Balkum and cost around ₹1,400 crore. The road, which will come up in Shinde’s stronghold of Thane, will help motorists avoid traffic jams on the Ghodbunder Road in Thane.
The peer review of the detailed project report (DPR) is complete and the CRZ clearances and land acquisition are pending. “Now that the funding source is available, we will speed up things,” he added.
This infusion of funds will also help projects like the 11.80 km Thane-Borivali tunnel, which includes twin underground tunnels under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) that will cost around ₹11,235 crore, and the 9.20 km line 10 (Gaimukh in Thane to Mira Bhayander) and 20.70 km line 12 (Kalyan-Dombivali-Taloja) of the Mumbai Metro, which are expected to cost ₹4,476 crore and ₹4,132 crore, respectively.
Srinivas added that projects that were already underway like the Metro lines III, IV, VI, and VII will also get a boost. “Some of these are 40 to 50% complete. The priority is, of course, to complete the existing projects and also to take up new projects,” he said.
Significantly, the discussion and decision regarding the same were taken in October 2021 in a meeting of the authority by then minister of urban development Eknath Shinde. The expenditure on the infrastructure project undertaken by the MMRDA is nearly ₹1,74,940 crore. The state government doesn’t have funds for this and the MMRDA is expected to handle the financing of its projects.
“It was discussed and approved last year in a meeting to raise the required funds to undertake the major infrastructure projects. This will now expedite the work along with city transport projects including railways as well,” said a senior MMRDA official that did not want to be named.