Being executed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the initial plan for the Samruddhi Corridor - popularly known as the Nagpur-Mumbai super expressway - was for construction to begin in July 2017 and Phase-1 to be over by October 2019. Today, 68 per cent of land has been acquired for the Rs 460 billion mega project.
What's more, Package-3 of the project recently received green clearance. RL Mopalwar, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, MSRDC, shares a status update in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What is the plan of action for the Samruddhi Corridor project?
We have already issued financial bids for 620 km starting from Nagpur to Igatpuri and the prequalification (PQ) stage for the remaining kilometres is on.
By March 31, we open for financial bids and hope to start construction in April. Green clearance is another essential for construction to begin; this includes environment, forest and wildlife clearance. We have received environment and forest clearance for Package-3 in Aurangabad. We have also received environment clearance for Package-1, which is the Nagpur division. Forest clearance for the Nagpur, Amravati and Nasik packages are at an advanced stage. By April, we hope to have all clearances in hand.
Why has this project not been attracting too many bidders?
There are basic criteria that were stringent because we wanted profit-making contractors with a financial and technical machine to ensure the project does not languish going ahead owing to lack of finance. The conditions were that the company should be profit-making; and that in case of a JV with a foreign partner, the foreign partner should have worked outside its original country. Now, this clause was not being fulfilled because all the technology companies have done a lot of work in their own countries but not outside. So, we withdrew this condition.
Acquiring land must have been a challenge in itself...
Here, we are at a comfortable stage. We monitor land almost on an hour-to-hour basis - 63 per cent of required land (including government land) has already been acquired. We have already disbursed Rs 35.83 billion to the farmers. However, to award work orders, we require 90 per cent land in possession. We expect to clock in the remaining 27 per cent in a couple of days.
The development of this project is expected to develop nodes in other areas...
Yes, such projects certainly open the economy for related areas. Such a road naturally requires fuel stations. This is followed by demand for hotels, food malls, entertainment centres, etc. Also, such a project will certainly become a logistics and manufacturing hub; with the ease of connectivity to Mumbai and JNPT, we expect a lot of manufacturing activities.
What is the total cost to be invested and how do you plan to raise the amount?
The project requires a total of Rs 460 billion, of which Rs 100 billion is being put in by MSRDC and PSUs for land acquisition. The actual amount paid to contractors will be Rs 280 billion. We have already invested Rs 100 billion for land acquisition. For construction, we have appointed SBI CAPS as our funds or loan arranger and have a commitment of Rs 200 billion of the Rs 280 billion with us.
What about construction equipment and materials?
Huge machinery and materials will be required: Concrete, equipment, aggregates, pipelines. Skill-sets will also be required, as will landscaping, raw materials and water.