Mumbai : The state government’s ambitious plan to construct a “communications super expressway” between Mumbai and Nagpur could get financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which has funded various infrastructure projects in Mumbai. The officials of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) on Tuesday had a preliminary discussion with the officials of JICA in New Delhi in this regard.

In the coming days, Public Works Department officials are scheduled to brief Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the progress on the project that would link Mumbai with his hometown as well as connect the most backward regions of the state including Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra along the way.

The state-of-the-art expressway is estimated to cost a whopping Rs 30,000 crore. It will pass through Ghoti, Aurangabad and Amravati and will cut the travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur to 10 hours from the existing 15 hours.

“Today [Tuesday], Joint MD, MSRDC and CFO had a preliminary discussion for Mumbai-Nagpur funding with a team of JICA. I can say that they were quite appreciative and positive. We have laid out the procedures and obviously the proposal will have to go through Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) after a nod from the state government,” confirmed Radheshyam Mopalwar, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, MSRDC.

The 800-km expressway will be constructed in two phases, according to officials. In the first phase, four-lane expressway will be constructed while in phase two, two more lanes will be added. Officials added that it would also have a super-optic fibre network, CCTV cameras and facilities such as WiFi. “We also plan to have IT parks wherever possible, smart cities will be planned along with educational hubs,” said Mopalwar.

Meanwhile, the MSRDC hasn’t finalised the implementation model of the project. The government is contemplating between cash contract and Public-Private Partnership model. “In either scenario, we can avail the funding from JICA,” Mopalwar added.

The MSRDC has already appointed Ernst & Young as consultants for the project. E&Y will finalise the alignment of the highway.