The Eastern Express Freeway project, that will help motorists get to the eastern suburbs faster, has got a boost with the Centre giving its nod to build on a patch of salt pan land.
The project is 70% complete and the developing agency, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), was faced with a hurdle in the form of a 1-km patch of salt pan land near Wadala.
“The salt pans – Dadkhudai and Hormos – are in the way of the freeway. MMRDA wanted permission to build an elevated road through this patch, but the salt commissioner did not allow it,” said an urban development department
The issue was raised by the state’s principal secretary (urban development), TC Benjamin, during the group of ministers (GoM) meeting on salt pan land in New Delhi on March 18. Union home minister P Chidambaram, who heads the GoM, directed the salt commissioner to issue permission by March 31.
“On Thursday, the solicitor general of India conveyed to Benjamin that the legal nod had been given for MMRDA to build through the salt pan land,” the official said.
The salt commissioner had, in July 2010, sought legal advice from the solicitor general before giving MMRDA the go-ahead.
“There was no response from the commissioner and we were worried we would be unable to complete the project by the year-end,” the official said. The salt pan land in Mumbai comes under the jurisdiction of the Centre and the salt commissioner is the supervising authority for it.
However, now with the legal clearance coming, a formal nod is expected anytime soon, he added. The project could be completed by December 2011 and thrown open to traffic, he said.
The Rs 531-crore Eastern Freeway Project is a 22-km high-speed corridor from Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Fort to the Eastern Express Highway. The partly elevated freeway will pass through P D’Mello Road, the Mumbai Port Trust area and meet the Eastern Express Highway via Anik Panjrapol Link Road.
The project commenced in January 2008 and is partly funded by the Centre under the national urban renewal mission.
There are 5,000 acres of salt pan land in Mumbai owned by the Centre.
This land may soon be unlocked to develop low-cost housing projects for rehabilitating slum dwellers to be displaced by the various infrastructure projects undertaken in the city.