New Delhi: The Maharashtra government has received only one bid for building Mumbai’s second airport in Navi Mumbai, placing a question mark over when the already delayed project would take off.
GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd, which runs the existing Mumbai airport, was the only bidder when the deadline, already extended once, ended on Wednesday afternoon.
“We got only one bid so we are giving an extension of two weeks now, so the next closing date will be 13th February,” said Bhushan Gagrani, managing director, Cidco, the city-planning arm of the Maharashtra government.
Navi Mumbai is Asia’s largest public-private partnership airport project, expected to cost around $2.5 billion.
A similar project to build Goa’s second airport received at least three bids in August last year from—GMR Infrastructure Ltd, which runs the Delhi and Hyderabad airports, state-owned Airports Authority of India and Subhash Chandra’s Essel Infra Projects Ltd. GMR won the Rs3,000 crore project.
An official familiar with the Navi Mumbai airport bidding process said bid conditions were not as conducive as companies would have liked them to be. “There is not enough clarity on the regulatory framework and oversight for airports,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “Government needs to step in if it really wants infrastructure projects to attract interest.”
Gagrani ruled out any change in the Navi Mumbai airport bid conditions to address some of the concerns of the bidders. “We can’t dilute. Any bid conditions cannot be changed midway otherwise I will have to do the entire process since the beginning,” he said.
It’s not known what would happen if no new bids come in even at the end of the new deadline.
“Then we will have to take a decision accordingly. Let’s see. We are convincing others to participate,” Gagrani said.
Mumbai’s existing airport is already receiving complaints from airlines because of congestion and queues.
Many airlines are also finding it difficult to get slots at the airport. After the project is awarded, it would take at least 5-7 years before the Navi Mumbai airport can host its first flight.
Domestic air traffic is growing at over 20% annually and touched 100 million passengers in 2016.
“It may delay the process significantly as it will be difficult to understand if there is good value for money from the bid received,” said Amrit Pandurangi, partner at consulting firm Deloitte.
“Government may also find it difficult to decide either to go right ahead with a single bid or to run the process again, as it is a complex and large project with a long history of delays. Unfortunately, any more delays will only mean more hardship for the passengers who have to live with the congested existing airport for longer,” he said.