With the Rs14,000-crore coastal road ready to take off this year, a smooth ride on Mumbai’s western express highway will soon become a reality.
The Centre’s environment ministry gave a final nod to the first phase of this project — from Princess Street in Marine Drive to Carter Road in Bandra — on Thursday.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a tweet, on Thursday, promised Mumbaiites a smooth ride on WEH.
The final nod for the south phase of the project comes nearly a year-and-a-half after the state government forced the Centre to amend its law — Coastal Regulatory Zone notification, 2011 — to allow reclamation to build a coastal road.
Fadnavis shared the news on his Twitter handle stating, “Mumbai #CoastalRoad gets final environmental approval from the Central Govt. Thank you Hon @narendramodi ji and @anilmdave ji !”
Taking a dig at previous Congress-NCP governments, Fadnavis tweeted how his government got approvals for the plan, which has been in the pipeline for 15 years, within 2 years.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the implementation agency, is now expected to issue a request for proposal for this phase, with the actual work on the road likely to take off by November this year.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “Coastal road gets final environmental approval from the Central government. This coastal road will ease the congestion of western expressway and give a faster and smoother ride to Mumbaikars.”
“The final approval is for the south phase of the project ; for the north phase some issues are pending, which will be resolved soon. We are reworking our designs and looking to minimise mangroves destruction at Versova and alignment of the under sea tunnel at Juhu beach. We will continue to get our plans for the north phase cleared even as we start construction with the south phase,’’ said a senior BMC official.
HT had reported on the clearance given in a meeting of the Centre’s expert appraisal panel in a meeting of an expert appraisal committee panel, but the approval was finalised in an order issued on Thursday. The go ahead comes with certain conditions, including stringent no residential or commercial development be allowed on the reclaimed land, two lanes be kept open for public transport through dedicated bus lanes etc.
The cost of the first phase of the eight-lane road, with two dedicated bus lanes, is estimated to be around Rs7,000 crore. It will include an undersea tunnel from Princess Street to Priyadarshani Park, followed by a coastal road until Worli, a connector to Bandra- Worli sea link from here and at Carter Road on the other side. The BMC is looking at global bids and the selected contractor will be asked to deliver on the BMC-approved design or select his own, whichever is more cost effective, informed the official.
The 29.2 km coastal road project – freeway road skirting the entire west coast of the city from Marine Drive to Kandivili – was first proposed in 2012 by the former Congress-NCP government led by Prithviraj Chavan. In its earlier avatar, the plan was to build sea links skirting the entire coast, but Chavan deemed it too expensive.
Now, with the final go ahead for the north phase of the coastal road still pending, it is likely that the government will give a go ahead to the Bandra-Versova sea link.
“The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation’s sea link project has all its clearances in place and at some extra cost we can start work on this. The big hang up for the North phase of the project are suburban elite residents, who are not happy with the idea of a coastal road,’’ said a senior official.
He said, “In any case, the entire alignment of coastal road has been cleared by the centre. If North phase of coastal road gets to be too tough, we will give go ahead to Bandra-Worli sea link.’’