8 Flaws in the State’s Approach Will Make the Coastal Road One of the Greatest Financial Blunders
On 16th July 2019 the Bombay High Court blocked the Coastal Road (CR) Project, asking for new environmental clearances for the Rs14,000-crore 29.2 km long coastal road joining South Mumbai to Borivali in the North. It also quashed the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances granted to it. 
 
The Court said that there is “serious lacuna” in the decision-making process and noted that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) should have obtained environmental clearance under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Centre. The Court lamented that “…a proper scientific study has been overlooked by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), the EIA and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).”
 
Here are the major issues with the way the government went about planning the coastal road.
 
1. Shoddy Planning: A lot of concerned citizens who have had a look at the project concluded that the entire planning process (not only the environment part) for the CR has been shoddy. 
 
The first and foremost requirement while planning any work is to establish the need for the work for which pre-feasibility and feasibility studies are essential. After the feasibility is established, a detailed project report (DPR) is prepared for obtaining a decision on investment for the execution of the project. 
 
While establishing the feasibility, various alternatives are discussed to ascertain whether the same goals can be achieved by any other means and with fewer resources and cost. Clearances under the Environment Act, Wild Life Protection Act etc. come at a much later stage. 
 
2. Fundamental Issues Ignored: The government did not get into basic questions such as, is there is a need for the CR? Aren’t there alterative and better solutions? Will a spending Rs14,000 crore actually reduce congestion? No rationale for the project was established, risks associated with the project have not been evaluated and no sensitivity analysis done. Here the independent variable is the actual traffic that will be diverted on to the CR.
 
A perusal of the Bombay High Court order dated 16 July 2019 shows in paragraph 165 that the only point other than “environment” that has been petitioned in the public interest litigations (PILs) is that of the metro being constructed parallel to the proposed CR. If pre-feasibility and feasibility had been done, the construction of the metro would have automatically figured in working out the traffic that would be diverted to the CR. 
 
3. Need for the CR Not Established: Our study reveals that the authorities had already made up their minds to construct the CR and all studies were designed to support this decision. In actuality, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) has not established the need for the CR. It is not a question of “for” or “against” but “with” and “without” that has remained unanswered. 
 
Further, it is not clear as to who are the real beneficiaries of the project. The CR will transport about 1.36 lakh cars i.e. not more 1.64 lakh passengers (taking average occupancy as 1.2 as per MCGM) on any given day. As opposed to this, the suburban rail corridors move more than 36 lakh passengers every day. Six car lanes in the CR are meant for car owners and only two for public transport. And despite this, the public is being made to finance the project.
 
4. Objectives Not Quantified: The objectives have not been quantified accurately e.g., the number and type of vehicles that will be diverted to the CR in a given period from the existing parallel roads. The objective of the CR as stated in the report: “This report presents studies carried out under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburb) to verify the feasibility of the proposed coastal road and recommendations for the detailed design stage of the project.” 
 
This gives the game away. It is clear from the objectives that the DPR was meant to “verify (and not ascertain – emphasis mine) the feasibility of the CR and the detailed design.” The objective shows that the authorities had already made up their minds to construct the CR. This is the most unprofessional objective anyone can come across anywhere in a DPR. 
 
5. Guidance from Unqualified “Experts”: Further, including the caveat -- “under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Commissioner” is ludicrous when bureaucrats lack the basic professional competence, qualifications, and experience to make a DPR for such an advanced and sophisticated project. Some of the other major indicators to show that the DPR was just a white wash to endorse a decision already taken are given below.
 
6. Errors in Working out Major Indicators: The Origin-Destination (OD) survey does not include the critical question of “willingness to use the road”. The consultant has safely assumed that all commuters would use the CR. In fact, the surveys have not been conducted strictly as per the Indian Roads Congress codes and mandates. 
 
Inadequate sample size can lead to wrong conclusions. In this case, the DPR has omitted its mention. Speed & Delay (S&D) survey was done only on one corridor and the results of that corridor are not available in the DPR. Classified volume count i.e. the number of vehicles by types is given but its categorisation is not given. Only total number of vehicles is given. 
 
Impact of Ganesh idols immersion on the tunnel both due to weight, change in soil conditions and social repercussions when certain beaches will not be available for immersion, have not been considered.
 
7. Contradictory Statements About Viability: In paragraph 15.9 “Conclusion from economic analysis and financial analysis”, it is stated:  “From the economic analysis it may be concluded that, the construction of the proposed CR may be considered as economically viable” meaning that the CR project is profitable to the government, to the economy and would improve the welfare of the citizens. 
 
However, paragraph 13.7 of the DPR shows a negative economic internal rate of return (IRR) at ( ΜΆ )2.55% with a meagre 1.47% as financial IRR. There is further confusion in the statement that follows in paragraph 15.9, “From the financial analysis results it may be concluded that the construction of the proposed Coastal Road is financially not viable on build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis.”
 
Even then, the DPR has concluded that the project is “economically viable” despite the economic IRR being negative and the project hardly sustainable financially at 1.47 % FIRR. 
 
8. Misleading Statement: The DPR states on page 154 that NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the High Court is also required in reference to PIL 87 of 2006. This appears irrelevant because the final order dated 21 September 2006 in respect of PIL 87 of 2006 states, “We are afraid, the subject matter of the writ petition cannot be said to fall within the domain of public interest litigation. We dismiss the writ petition accordingly.” Do we need any further evidence to show that the whole DPR is fudged to enable the CR being made “under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburb)”?
 
Global experience shows that investments go waste when projects are undertaken without a DPR or the DPR is “fudged” or wrongly prepared. Nagrik Chetna Manch had filed a PIL about a flyover costing over Rs100 crore constructed in Pune with a fudged DPR. Instead of reducing the traffic congestion, the multi-storied flyover has added to the woes of the motorists and hardships of the pedestrians. A foot over bridge made without a DPR in Pune had to be demolished after a couple of years because of lack of its usage with its columns obstructing pedestrians.
 
We strongly recommend that concerned citizens and non-profit organisations should take up PILs on issues other than the “environment” because our experience shows that hardly any project fails the test of environment. The government can even change the legislation to accommodate its pet projects. Moreover, here we are talking of Rs14,000 crore! Do we want to see this enormous amount from our own pockets going down the Arabian Sea?
 
Maj Gen SCN Jatar (Retd) was chairman and managing director of Oil India and ONGC Videsh. He is working to bring transparency in governance and volunteers with Nagrik Chetna Manch, Pune
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    COMMENTS

    K C Gangadhar

    4 weeks ago

    I think this is a fit case where Moneylife should pursue relentlessly till the project is dropped. We cannot allow such colossal investment which brings no identified benefits for the good of larger populace of the City.

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to K C Gangadhar 4 weeks ago

    Yes, let's also chip in towards that end

    Chetan Bordawekar

    1 month ago


    We don't need Coastal Road in Mumbai because It will congest Mumbai city as well as Western Suburbs. It will bring huge volume of cars from Marine Drive and put it various parts of city where there is a little room for disbursal. This will result in massive jams across the western coastal line. Same thing will happen at Marine Drive while going to South Mumbai via Coastal Road.
    We have seen this on Bandra Worli Sea Link where large volume of cars come from Worli and creates traffic jam on WEH due to little room for disbursement., vice versa at Haji Ali Jn.
    So no more link roads which brings large volume of cars at one go and accumulates post exit points. This results in massive jam. Therefore I oppose Mumbai Coastal Road Project.

    I suggest Coastal Road Project money can be utilized to buy new BEST Buses to ensure sufficient Number of buses on Mumbai Roads.

    Thanks & Regards
    Chetan Bordawekar

    RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM

    1 month ago

    THIS IS HOW PUBLIC MONEY IS SQUANDERED. TAX PAYERS MONEY IS LOOTED BY SUCH PROJECT DEVELOPERS AND VVVVIPS WHO ENJOY SHAMELESS PERKS WITHOUT HAVING ANY ACCOUNTABILITY.

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    The only thing for the common people, from the CR is a nice laugh. Let's not miss it πŸ˜…

    JaeyeB

    1 month ago

    Perhaps no one realises that the CR also helped release all the land locked under CRZ regulations and FSI restrictions along the coastline for more construction. Projects which were stalled or not getting clearances have suddenly sprung to life post the CR works along Worli. The entire project is to appease a few developers, raise funds and guess who have invested into those projects, something to dig into further.

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to JaeyeB 1 month ago

    πŸ‘, At the expense of ordinary people, out of the pockets of ordinary people.

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to PRADEEP KUMAR M S 1 month ago

    that is governance

    abhi

    1 month ago

    Crux of the matter is ruling mafia wants to loot the exchequer at any cost

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to abhi 1 month ago

    πŸ‘, elementary - dear Watson πŸ˜€

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    I have always challenged the real estate Don's concept that Nariman Point is the centre of universe and that all roads must necessarily lead to it from all corners of the world. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Suketu Shah

    1 month ago

    It is 14000 crores now.By the time it finished after 6 yrs it wl be 50,000 crores.Superb article.

    REPLY

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to Suketu Shah 1 month ago

    Only Money life has the guts and spine to challenge prestigious white elephants

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to S Ramaswamy 1 month ago

    I endorse

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    1 month ago

    This is standard Indian Governance. Since seventy years and counting. The amazing thing is that an Indian court has halted it. For now.

    REPLY

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to SuchindranathAiyerS 1 month ago

    But who cares about the likes of us?

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    It is indeed a colossal blunder.
    But it is only for you and me and likes of us.

    Government to sell immovable Enemy Properties this fiscal to mop up revenues
    The government will sell the immovable properties like land and buildings of the Enemy this fiscal to augment the divestment revenues and will also get its share from the proceeds of the non-core asset sales of the CPSEs, a top official said.
     
    "We got Rs 1,800 crore from the sale of 'Enemy Property' last fiscal and now we are looking at selling land and buildings of 'such properties. We will look at those properties which have clear title paper and the transactions involves its custodians with DIPAM being provided all relevant documents together with information on encumbrances or encroachments," Atanu Chakraborty, Secretary, DIPAM told IANS in an interview. 
     
    The government has increased disinvestment target for FY20 from earlier Rs 90,000 crore to Rs 1,05,000 crore. It is thus looking at all possible ways of of mobilising disinvestment proceeds. 
     
    Asked if DIPAM has set any target for the sell-off proceeds of immovable Enemy Property, Chakraborty said: "We don't intercede such targets. All these processes are very time consuming involving legal issues, contracts, agreements and titles all these have to be worked out. Even transactions small or big one like Air India, the spade work is huge."
     
    The 'Aliens' or Enemies are not the citizens of India. These are the people who at the time of partition or later went to Pakistan or Bangladesh or anywhere and left properties behind. Their properties are with the Custodian of Enemy Property.
     
    As DIPAM is currently undertaking the exercise of selling of identified non-core assets of the CPSEs, there is an issue of who will get the proceeds of such sales? Whether its DIPAM or the CPSE whose assets are being sold off. 
     
    "Its a complex process.. but however that proceeds would be treated as proceeds from strategic divestment. It will go on case to case basis on what would be the principles of sharing. But since it is non-core asset to the concerned CPSE with no credible financial use, it will go on case to case basis on what would be the platform for principles for sharing. But since that's an asset which doesn't have a very credible financially viable use for the CPSE, obviously the promoter -- government does deserve a share. It will be on case-by-case on who DIPAM or the concerned CPSE gets the lion's share," the Secretary said. 
     
    If the CPSE wants to sell some of its core assets like its loss making power plants, they can go ahead to it on their own. But if they want securitise some part of their core assets, there DIPAM can have a role. 
     
    He said hiving off entire core assets is not DIPAM's domain. Airlines industry does it because there, the sale and lease-back kind of arrangement. It's part of the regular operations which companies do. If in a petroleum company, certain pipelines are leased out, it's a limited case. If everyone started selling out their core assets, they shouldn't be involved in business, the Secretary said. 
     
    In case of CPSEs hiving off non-core assets and then DIPAM selling off them, Chakrabortty said first the ownership has to change. 
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal dies in Chennai hosptial
    The founder of Saravana Bhavan chain of South Indian restaurant P. Rajagopal, who surrendered last week to serve a life term for a murder committed decades back, died here on Thursday morning in a private hospital, police said.
     
    The 71-year-old, dubbed the "Dosa king", was shifted to a private hospital here on Tuesday on the orders of Madras High Court from government Stanley Hospital where he was being treated in the prison ward.
     
    Rajagopal had arrived in an ambulance with an oxygen mask strapped to his face after the Supreme Court turned down his request to delay his sentence on medical grounds. 
     
    Sentenced to life term for the murder of his employee, Prince Santhakumar, Rajagopal surrendered before a court here on July 9 after the apex court dismissed his petition, seeking more time for surrender.
     
    Sent to prison, he was admitted to the government hospital later the same day after complaining of giddiness.
     
    Rajagopal had also sought that he be exempted from being sent to jail and his hospitalisation be treated as a deemed jail term. The court had refused the plea.
     
    The case that goes back to the 1990s, had attracted considerable attention both in India and abroad. 
     
    Rajagopal allegedly wanted to marry a woman, on the advice of his astrologer.
     
    At the time, Rajagopal had two wives and the young woman, then in her twenties, rejected him. She married Santakumar in 1999. The prosecution told the court Rajagopal threatened the couple in 2001 and demanded they end the marriage.
     
    Days after the couple went to the police, Santhakumar was kidnapped and killed. His body was found in the forests.
     
    The founder of the restaurant chain popular in the country and overseas, Rajagopal was sentenced by a sessions court to a 10 year jail term on charges of killing Santhakumar.
     
    He had appealed in the Madras High Court, but it upheld his conviction while enhancing the sentence to a life imprisonment. The conviction and sentence were upheld by the apex court in March and he was supposed to surrender on July 7 to begin his term.
     
    He moved the apex court to delay the beginning of his term, citing ill health, but got no relief from it.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • User

    COMMENTS

    AAR

    1 month ago

    Deal seems to be to hold the sentencing till his last few days so he can spend it with his family.

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