In what could be a game changer for the Mumbai’s mass transport projects, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a fresh study of passenger traffic which the various transport modes like the railways, metro and monorail, water transport and coastal road are expected to facilitate.
Sources close to Chavan said his suggestion that the originating point of the Virar-Churchgate elevated railway corridor be terminated at Bandra instead stemmed from the fact that many offices have shifted to Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as the suburbs.
Rishi Aggarwal, transport expert and a fellow at Observer Research Foundation, welcomed the move.
“It would lead to reduction of traffic in the suburban rail network if the metro line and elevated corridor are constructed next to each other. They should not plan without conducting a study,” he said.
Another expert said a comprehensive study would help iron out planning deficiencies, like in the case of the monorail between Wadala and Chembur, which experts expect to evoke little response from the commuters.
The next stage of mono rail between Wadala and Jacob Circle is riddled with similar concerns.
“The state, planning commission and the railways will conduct the study together,” Chavan told a media conference in New Delhi after meeting Singh.
However, railway officials dismissed Chavan’s suggestion for curtailing the elevated corridor as financially unviable.
“Nobody will travel in an air-conditioned train till Bandra and then take a suburban train to reach Churchgate,” said senior railway official.
Chavan also had the muchdelayed Sewri-Nhava Sheva trans-harbour link in mind. He urged Singh to declare it a ‘national project’ and provide substantial financial assistance for the Rs. 9,630-crore cost. The 22-km project would facilitate seamless and speedy link from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai, Pune, Goa and south India.
Chavan had sought the PM’s time in view of the delayed projects, which if stalled further could generate adverse reaction ahead of the general and assembly elections.
The Navi Mumbai airport which the PM had cleared ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls is crucial because the state managed get the project-affected people on board by assuring the highest compensation package in the country a couple of days ago.
Other politically sensitive issues such as the Dr Ambedkar memorial in Dadar’s Indu Mill land was also discussed at the meeting.