The city's VIP culture has again interfered with its development. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has blamed major VIP events in the last two years as reasons for delay in the resurfacing of the iconic Marine Drive or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road in the island city.
In a written reply (a copy of which is with HT) to BJP corporator Dilip Patel's point of order, the civic body has said that the project was delayed owing to "unavoidable reasons" like the Make In India event at Girgaum chowpatty, the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches held at Wankhede stadium, the annual Mumbai Marathon, the assembly sessions which bring in major political leaders to the Mantralaya building in Nariman Point and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the city in 2015.
"These are just frivolous reasons given by the administration. These events are scheduled, assembly session are held every year, then how can they not plan in advance? The stretch is in a very bad condition and troublesome for motorists," Patel said.
The delay has also resulted in a cost variation from Rs 86 crore earlier to Rs 110 crore now - a 21% rise in cost. The project of resurfacing the stretch was allotted to RPF Infra projects private limited in January, 2014. The project was expected to be completed in May, 2016. However, the work will be undertaken only after monsoon now, the reply states. While RPF Infra has been named in the Rs 350 crore road scam, officials said that on-going projects have to be completed by the contractor.
A senior civic official from the roads department said that the BMC could not get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the traffic police in intervals to complete the work. "We did not get the NOC because of these VIP events. We plan to start the work again from October 15," the official said.
Lakhs of motorists use the 4.5-km long stretch, also known as the Queen's Necklace, on a daily basis. The iconic boulevard, a picture commonly used to depict the city, also turned 100 last December. The BMC has planned to resurface 70% of the road using mechanised mastic asphalt, while the rest of the stretch will be concretised. The project also includes beautifying and re-hauling the existing storm-water drains.