Mumbai: In a latest development regarding the Versova-Bandra sealink, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure has replaced a Chinese company as its partner for the Versova-Bandra Sealink project. It has accordingly informed the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) about the change. Reliance is one of the five companies that have bid for the sealink work on which is expected to start in 2018.

Joint managing director of MSRDC PS Mandpe said, “The Reliance may have thought that getting a security clearance with a Chinese company would be a problem. They had CGCD, a Chinese company, as their partner and have now replaced it with an Italian firm Astaldi. They have given a letter to us about this,” reported Mumbai Mirror.

MSRDC’s acting managing director Bhushan Gagrani and chief engineer Shankar Dhote also confirmed that Reliance had given a letter to change its partner. Dhote said,”In the case of Mumbai trans-harbour link, the Chinese companies had a problem getting security clearance, hence Reliance may have changed its partner for this reason.’’
Companies with Chinese firms as partners found it extremely difficult to get security clearances from the ministry of home affairs and ministry of defence. Relations between India and China have not been on smooth terms ever since Doklam stand-off and Indian defence authorities, especially the western naval command is quite worried with Chinese companies working in the seas around Mumbai as the base of the western command and the headquarters are located here
The western naval command officials often say that Chinese companies pass on information to their country, and crucial movements of defence are also reported.

For this ambitious project, many companies have shown interest and Larsen and Toubro has also bid for the project. They have changed their partner from Daewoo to Samsung. Their spokesperson did not want to comment. Sources in the industry said that it was done for operational reason. While Hindustan Construction (HCC) Company, which built the first sealink from Worli to Bandra, has also changed its partner from SK Engineering to Soma, said Mandpe. The HCC chief Ajit Gulabchand said that these things keep happening.

The proposed sealink from Bandra to Versova is a part of a coastal road undertaken by the state government. The road from Marine Drive to Worli is being constructed by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The sealink connects Worli and Bandra. The sealink from Bandra to Versova will be connected by MSRDC along with the coastal road from Versova to Kandivali.

The bids for the project will be opened by January 29. The letter of intent will be given in the next 15 days and the work is likely to start only in the later stages of 2018.