Saturday, 5 July 2014

construction opportunities
There’s a big business opportunity with tenders worth Rs 12,000-13,000 crore being floated in 2014
ASHWINI BHIDE, ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONER, MUMBAI METROPOLITAN REGION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, has taken brickbats and bouquets in her daily stride. At her office in Bandra, a newspaper cut out of a bridge project pasted to a side wall screams ‘How China builds these…And India never does’.  In a sense, it serves as a constant reminder that if there are multiple hurdles in the effective implementation of projects, then there is also an urgent need to find solutions to overcome them. In an interview with CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, the construction magazine, the IAS officer highlights on the challenges at the workplace and the prospects of important projects achieving completion in 2014.

Construction Opportunities, the construction magazine finds out about her role as Additional Commissioner of MMRDA:
My responsibility covers various key projects including those related to road improvement to specialised projects like elevated road connectivity, airport connectivity, bridges over rail and a series of flyovers across the city.  In addition, I am also in charge of monorail connectivity in Mumbai. Beside infra projects I am also in charge of some social projects like Nirmal-MMR sanitation campaign which is intended to remove the backlog of public toilets. I am also in charge of building a series of sky walks across the city.  Moreover, some other facilities such as solid waste management and bulk water supply are also being taken care of by me. In addition, Mumbai Trans Harbor Link (MTHL) and BKC entry point improvement project is also under my charge.

Your thoughts on comparison of Mumbai to other cities over how quickly projects are implemented there: I really do not want to compare Mumbai’s development with the development of other cities. Five years back most of the projects were tendered but several of them remain stuck due to various reasons. It takes a lot of time to get these issues resolved. Yes, I do understand Mumbai’s pace of infrastructure projects is slow but that is because of back log. But without comparing with other cities the kind of projects we handle may not currently have visibility, but projects like Freeway, Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and Sahar Elevated Road will really help curb the city’s traffic problem. People should also understand that here challenges are more mainly because of the huge population density and structural constraints like environment and forest clearance issues, land acquisition etc. Unlike other cities, Mumbai does not have a single land available for infra projects.

Construction Opportunities, the construction magazine found out if Mumbai will ever be the next Shanghai:
Yes, we have a dream to make Mumbai become like Shanghai. But, the question is: are we going to adopt their political system? Here we have so many stakeholders in a project. We need to have various clearances before entering any project. As a democratic country we have to pay heed to everybody's voice and need. For instance, there are number of claims in the Eastern Freeway project for which we had to create rehabilitation. There were almost 40 different agencies and 5,000 people we have had to settle down in the project. Besides, we also have to obtain BPCL and HPCL permissions because their refinery lies in between the project. Initially it was a huge task, but eventually we sorted it out.
I also must say for any infrastructure project the government should understand the need and urgency and take respective action. I have not seen any other state going ahead with such difficulties.

The total size of the projects from MMRDA and the subsequent business opportunity:
The entire project cost which includes ongoing and those in the pipeline would be around Rs 30,000-40,000 crore. Out
of those in the year 2014 alone we will float tenders for projects to the tune of Rs 12,000-13,000 crore.

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