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Thursday, 11 July, 2019, 13 : 15 PM [IST]

Maharashtra to amend Act to expedite ropeway development

In a bid to expedite the development of ropeways between Gateway of India and Elephanta Island, Borivali and Gorai, and Malad and Marve, as well as those in Matheran, Nashik and other districts, the Maharashtra government will amend the archaic Bombay Aerial Ropeway Act 1955. The Act, which was amended in 1970, will be further amended to introduce necessary changes after considering the rules and regulations which prevail in various states. The government has formed an eight-member committee headed by the Chief Engineer of the state public works department to suggest the same.

A PWD engineer told DNA, "Ropeways are no more looked as mere tourism and recreational purposes. They are now being seen as a mode of urban transport to improve connectivity. In cities like Mumbai, where people are facing traffic problems, such initiatives can be useful. Therefore, the government has proposed further amendments to the Bombay Aerial Ropeway Act 1955. The ropeway system would provide an ideal low-cost inclusive travel option." He informed that the Centre has already included ropeways among the infrastructure which may be funded through the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund, the erstwhile Central Road Fund.

Another PWD officer said the proposed amendments will facilitate the speedy implementation of ropeways as necessary sanctions and approvals from various departments will be granted in a hassle-free manner. As per the present provisions of the Act, ropeway operators won't be entitled to stake a claim to a share of the road cess. The amendment may pave for the operators to make such claim saying that they are serving as roads as last mile connectivity on air.

Before the finalisation of the plan, the identified and proposed projects would be scrutinised and agreed for implementation in principle by various departments. ''Any differences in opinion would be sorted out and the plan suitably modified before presenting it to the prospective investors,'' the officer added.

He reiterated that ropeways provide an aerial passageway across roads, canals and buildings, bypassing traffic and reaching the destination in a straight line. The officer recalled that NITI Aayog recently issued model concession agreement in order to standardise guidelines for facilitating private sector participation to implement Ropeway projects under a suitable design, built, finance, operate & transfer (DBFOT) PPP framework.

NITI Aayog has recommended the adoption of globally accepted European CEN standards. Though there are other standards such as Canadian/American that are available, but considering that most of the technologies on safety of ropeways have evolved in Europe and Europe also has the maximum installations of ropeways across market segments including adventure, tourism, leisure, urban transport, etc., CEN standards were considered the most reliable and credible.

As per the present provisions of the Act, ropeway operators won’t be entitled to stake a claim to a share of road cess. (Source: DNA)

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