As the fate of the Worli-Haji Ali sea link hangs in balance, the dilemma over its construction may be cleared in a few days.
Various issues between the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium have delayed the project. The MSRDC has appointed a retired chief justice of Bombay high court to mediate an amicable solution with Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium.
The mediator will have a first round of discussion on January 10.
The consortium of Reliance Infrastructure and Hyundai is supposed to construct the next phase of the Bandra-Worli sea link extending till Haji Ali but unsolved problems have created hurdles in the project. While R-Infra consortium has been demanding a construction yard near the Bandra-end of the sea link, the MSRDC has refused to meet the demand.
Besides, both parties have not agreed on several terms and conditions of the state support agreement, which is to be signed by MSRDC, the consortium and the state government.
A senior MSRDC official said this has led to a deadlock and now the corporation has decided to call off the project.
"Retired chief justice BP Singh has been appointed a mediator and he will start negotiations to resolve the crisis amicably with Reliance Infrastructure," said the official requesting anonymity.
The state government is doing a rethink on 4-km Worli Haji Ali sea link because it has an option to construct cheaper coastal roads. A high-level technical committee appointed by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has already given indications that coastal roads are cheaper options to replace sea links in several parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
The committee is also likely to suggest that Mumbai or MMR should be made a special case to get rid of the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) restrictions.
"The mediator will start work from January 10 when we will have the first round of talks. Officially, though the sea link project is not cancelled till now, we believe that if R-Infra cannot start work under the present circumstances, the project is most likely to be called off. The discussions will revolve around how to lead to a logical conclusion," said a source in the corporation.
Officials of the consortium have a different story to tell. A top R-Infra official told DNA that the mediator was being appointed as per the concession agreement between MSRDC and R-Infra for an amicable manner to resolve pending issues. "We have not heard anything on the project being called off," said the official requesting anonymity.