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Devendra Fadnavis government may not seek JICA funds for Mumbai-Nagpur expressway

Even as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is keen to fund infra projects in Maharashtra, the Fadnavis government is unlikely to approach the agency for the proposed Rs 30,000-crore Mumbai-Nagpur expressway citing long delays in getting approvals.

Mumbai-Nagpur expressway-AVThe Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is implementing the 700-km 8-lane expressway, expects to commence work on the project by end October this year and complete by 2019, when the state as well as the nation go to polls.
“The proposed Mumbai-Nagpur super-communication expressway is a huge project and we will need to raise funds from various agencies. We are in talks with various national and multilateral lenders like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank among others.

“We may also seek central funds for the project, which we will take up on an EPC model,” MSRDC joint managing director SM Ramchandani said.

The Devendra Fadnavis government, however, is reluctant to approach the JICA, which offers the cheapest loans for large infra projects, even as the Japanese agency has agreed to fund most of the infrastructure projects in the state, including the Mumbai-Transharbour Link, and upcoming three metros in the megapolis among others.

Also, JICA has agreed to fund the Rs. 98,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project and the proposed Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor. It is already funding the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor as well as the Eastern and Wester Dedicated Freight Corridors.

The JICA is funding billions of loans at a rate as low as 0.15 per cent in some projects. In the case of bullet train project, wherein JICA will be funding 81 per cent of project cost, the 50-year soft loan is priced at 0.10 per cent.

“We will not approach JICA for the Nagpur expressway project. We want to start work on this project as soon as possible. We have experienced it in the past that the JICA takes a long time to give their approvals and we do not have that much time to wait,” Ramchandani said.

The JICA, last year, had expressed interest in funding infrastructure projects to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore being undertaken by the state.
After almost a year of granting in-principle approval, the Japanese agency recently gave its final approval to fund the much-awaited Rs 17,500-crore 22-km Mumbai TransHarbour Link (MTHL) project and the ambitious Rs 23,136-crore 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground metro project.

The MTHL, which will connect the island city with the satellite city of Navi Mumbai near the proposed new international airport, will go a long way in decongesting the choked easter suburbs of the megapolis.

“The detailed project report or DPR of the expressway project is ready and the bidding process and awarding of the contract are expected to be completed by September. By end October we will start the work on the project and we hope to complete it by 2019,” Ramchandani added.

The proposed super-communication express way is expected to play an important role in the economic growth and development of backward, drought-hit regions of the state as it will pass through 14 districts from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which is reeling under one of the worst droughts in history now.

The super-communication way is expected to see development of IT, industries, services sector and massive transportation activities connecting hinterland with the ports on the west coast apart from putting up some smart cities along the way.

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