Versova-Bandra Sea Link casting yard: Private land identified, but not ownership

Mumbai: There's some ray of hope for the proposed Versova Bandra Sea Link (VBSL) project with a private landowner showing interest in leasing out his property at Malad for the casting yard purpose.

However, the struggle continues unless the land owner submits all property details dismissing the possibility of any land dispute on the proposed land parcel in order to sign the deal with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is the nodal agency.

Casting yard is the place where the girders are made and later transported to the actual location for the installation.

Radheshyam Mopalwar, vice-chairman and managing director of MSRDC confirmed to the FPJ that the scrutiny of all property papers is underway. "Only when it is confirmed the said property is undisputed the deal will be processed," he asserted.

According to MSRDC officials, the offered land parcel in Malad has about 200 property extracts. This means, the land may not belong to a single party but have multiple owners, thus making the process complicated.

An MSRDC official informed, "It is necessary to get approval of all involved owners related to this estate. Interestingly, so far the bidder (property owner ) has managed to provide 120 property extracts out of 200, while remaining are yet to be submitted."

Following the Bombay High Court, which denied the permission to use the previous Versova shore land for casting yard purpose over environmental concern, the MSRDC began looking for 10 hectares of land parcel on a rental basis in 20-km radius from Juhu or Versova sea coast. It received only a single bidder after calling the tender twice.

The VBSL project was supposed to begin in 2013. However, floating of tenders for the appointment of contractors, approval of land in compensation for mangroves affected etc took time.

Meanwhile, the five-year validity, no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Coastal Regulation Zone to carry out the work, expired. They had to seek renewal of the NOC from the Union ministry of environment.

In 2018, the MSRDC finally awarded the civil work contract for the construction of the VBSL to the consortium of Reliance Infrastructure-Astaldi to build the 17-km-long sea bridge at an estimated cost of Rs7,000 crore.

The proposed toll bridge will cut travel time between Bandra and Versova to 10 minutes from 90 and is scheduled to be ready by 2023. However, for want of casting yard land, the authority has been incurring a daily loss of Rs 68 lakh to the public exchequer.

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