July 3 2017
While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) aims to shortlist bidders for the construction of the country’s longest sea link, connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva, also known as Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), by July, the project still lacks crucial security nod from the Union Home Department and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
The nod from both these agencies is mandatory and was sought by the MMRDA considering the construction site is in the vicinity of the country’s two major ports, namely the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT), along with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The above mentioned locations have restricted areas where the Official Secrets Act is imposed and hence clearance is mandatory.
UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, told DNA, “We have applied for the security clearance with the Union Home Department. We are constantly following up with them and we hope to get the clearance soon.”
Meanwhile, MMRDA has said that it got around 3,000 technical queries from the shortlisted bidders. Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We had received 3,000 technical queries and have replied to all of them with the approval of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the project.”
JICA is funding 85 per cent of the total project cost, which is Rs 17,500 crore. Out of this, Rs 13,500 crore will be spent on civil works. MTHL is a 22-km-long cable stay bridge and will be the second longest sealink in the world after the 42-km link between Qingdao to Huandao in China. The project has been on paper since the 1980s due to lack of environmental clearances.
- The Home Department will grant security clearance after consultations with external affairs and intelligence agencies.
- Since the construction sites are crucial from the security point of view, the Home Dept and Intelligence Bureau needs to check the track record of the bidders and the countries they belong to.
- The security nod is crucial because without it MMRDA cannot shortlist the bidders.