MUMBAI: The cost of the Maharashtra government’s marquee project, Versova Bandra Sealink, has shot up by a massive 60 per cent to Rs 11,333 crore, from Rs 6,993 crore in 2019.
Despite the huge cost overrun of over Rs 4,300 crore in the last four years, there has been a very little progress on the project.
The project has been mired in legal tangles as certain parties have challenged the environmental clearance granted to the project.
The matter has now reached the Supreme Court.
The Rs 7,000-crore project, with a length of 17.7 km, was expected to be ready by 2023.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency for the project, has now revised it to December 2026.
The VBS project was originally awarded to a consortium of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. and Astaldi of Italy, in 2019, through a tendering process.
Reliance – Astaldi JV was the L1 with a project cost of Rs 6,993 crore, while L&T and ITD Cementation were L2 & L3 with a cost of Rs 7,600 crore and Rs 7,300 crore, respectively.
In 2021, Reliance Infra sold its shares to Astaldi, and APPCO, a Uttar Pradesh-based company became a new JV partner of Astaldi in the project.
The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) had issued Environment Clearance (EC) in favour of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in February 2017.
Juhu Moragaon Machhimar Vividh Karyakari Sahkari Sanstha (JMMVKSS) — a fish workers society in Juhu challenged the EC granted to the sealink, in the NGT’s Western Bench, who quashed the petition in August 2022.
Post that, the matter went up to the High Court, and the HC also dismissed the petition.
After that, another petitioner filed a similar petition challenging the EC granted to the project in the NGT.
The MSRDC has now approached the Supreme Court against the NGT taking up the same issue, which has already been settled by the High Court and NGT’s Western Bench.
While mentioning the MSRDC’s petition for urgent hearing in the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the apex court that due to the inordinate delay the cost of the project has gone up to Rs 11,333 crore.
The Supreme Court will hear MSRDC’s plea on Friday (March 17).
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