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Sea link drive could end in chaos

The 5.6-KM Bandra-Worli sea link may get you from Bandra to Worli in a flash, but be ready for a long, slow crawl towards the end of the Worli seaface stretch, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2009 01:17 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The 5.6-KM Bandra-Worli sea link may get you from Bandra to Worli in a flash, but be ready for a long, slow crawl towards the end of the Worli seaface stretch.

Even if the sea link gets inaugurated as promised by May, your smooth ride will end at the sea face.

The estimated 1.40-lakh cars expected to use this link daily will then get into a traffic jam because the traffic dispersal system as planned by the state along this stretch is delayed for lack of environmental clearance.

In a bid to avoid a traffic nightmare, the Maharash-tra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has planned two smaller flyovers and three foot overbridges on to the narrow, four-lane Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Road, only two lanes of which will be going towards south Mumbai.

The MSRDC needs environmental clearances for these flyovers because of the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms.

However, despite planning this traffic dispersal system last year, the MSRDC has not got the clearances. The MSRDC last month approached the state level authority, which has no powers to grant such clearances and can only forward an application to the Centre.

“We have forwarded it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” said Environment Sec-retary Valsa Nair. “Their expert committee on infrastructure can clear these projects if so pursued by the MSRDC.”

Requesting anonymity, MSRDC officials admitted getting a clearance from the Centre was a tedious process and that they could not issue work orders till the clearance was given.

After the clearance, the finalised tender will be announced and the work order to complete the flyovers and bridges within five months will be granted.

So what took the MSRDC so long to seek the clearance?

There are no clear answers to this. These measures were suggested to the MSRDC by the then joint police commissioner (traffic) Sanjay Barve under the state’s Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority, the nodal authority for transport, in September to avoid traffic chaos.

It was also suggested that the MSRDC opt for prefabricated steel car decks covered with concrete instead of the traditional concrete so as to complete the work within a short span of three or four months, in time for the inauguration of the sea link.

“This means you can zoom from Bandra to Worli in seven minutes but it can take you another half-an-hour or more to get to Haji Ali,” said a state secretariat bureaucrat. “It’s a mess.”

MSRDC officials say the sea link can function well even without the flyovers.

“The flyovers are only additional traffic measures,” said MSRDC Vice-President Satish Gavai.