How Has the Second COVID Wave Affected Mumbai’s Key Infrastructure Projects?

How Has the Second COVID Wave Affected Mumbai’s Key Infrastructure Projects?

The coronavirus pandemic has no doubt led to a number of key infrastructure projects coming to a halt. However, the Maharashtra government has allowed construction activity for its projects in some form since May 2020. A majority of the state’s ambitious projects are in Mumbai, including the Metro lines, Coastal Road project, among others.  

So how has the fresh wave of COVID-19 impacted the ongoing civic and state infrastructure projects?

Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL)

The MTHL is expected to be the country’s longest sea bridge when finished, connecting Mumbai to Navi Mumbai. The construction of MTHL has been divided into three portions, and it is likely that the completion deadline may be delayed. While the first and second portions of the project are expected to finish by September 2022, the third package was previously expected to conclude by September 2021. 

The development of MTHL will be carried out at a cost of ₹17,843 crores with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) stating that it has achieved 46 per cent financial progress for all three portions/packages of the project as of February 2021. 

“The contractors have mobilised additional resources at site to make up the probable delays due to the lockdown/restrictions,” an MMRDA official said while speaking to BloombergQuint.

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Coastal Road

The often controversial Coastal Road project will span 9.98 kilometres in southern Mumbai. However, the project has already been delayed by at least 12 months due to COVID-19 and other factors.

This project received significant pushback from the fishing community and environmentalists as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) managed to secure the requisite permissions to carry out the project. When finished, Coastal Road will establish connectivity between the Princess Street Flyover and the Worli end of the Sea Link. Work on this ambitious project began in 2018 while the cost estimate has touched ₹12,721 crores.  

Vijay Nighot, Chief Engineer of the Coastal Road Project said, “The earlier completion date of the project was October 2022 but due to the delays caused by various court cases, the deadline now has been pushed to 23rd July 2023. However, in this time frame time lost due to Covid pandemic has not been counted so the timeline might be extended for another four-five months.” 

Nighot went on to say that despite the litigation and other issues, the project will not see a cost escalation. 

As of April 28, the civic body has finished digging 330 metres for the proposed 3.45-km tunnel below Malabar Hill. Officials said that they’re digging approximately 7 metres of the tunnel each day. 

Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA)

This airport in Navi Mumbai was proposed to reduce the burden on Mumbai’s international airport which was on the brink of running out of space prior to the pandemic. Though the first phase of NMIA was expected to finish before the end of 2019, the deadline had to be postponed due to a variety of reasons, including lack of environmental clearances as well as land acquisition. 

The Maharashtra City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has been appointed as the nodal agency for this particular project. CIDCO has said that the project was delayed due to the pandemic, but is on course again. 

CIDCO also has to conclude relief and rehabilitation work for residents of the villages affected by this project. 

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Mumbai Metro

The Metro Line A from Versova to Ghatkopar is currently operational while the rest are at varying stages of completion. A network of 14 metro lines has been planned by the government with one of them being underground. Around 12 of the overhead lines will be developed by the MMRDA.

Metro line 3 is one of the larger metro construction projects stretching 33.5 km with connectivity between Colaba, Bandra, and Seepz. This project faced several issues since it was conceived due to the proposed car shed at Aarey colony. Although the car shed location has since been changed to Kanjurmarg, the matter is pending in court. 

As for the metro construction work, Ranjit Singh Deol, Managing Director at the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) said that the agency has concluded 95 per cent of tunnelling and 65 per cent of the overall project work. 

But Deol was sceptical about the completion deadline of September 2022 and March 2023 for Phase 1 and Phase 2, respectively. “However, considering the pandemic, its effect and the uncertainty that looms over its cure, it will be difficult to spell out a time frame in which the project can be completed. Human life will always precede every venture,” he added.

The MMRCL is engaged in construction with a limited number of workers so as maintain appropriate COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, the agency is reportedly facing supply chain-related issues and a scarcity of workers skilled in control blasting and those capable of handling heavy machinery, Deol said. To make matters worse, getting consultants and experts into the field is also a concern due to the travel restrictions in place right now.  

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