The state government’s flip-flop on the Worli-Haji Ali sea link issue continues. In a new twist that could inordinately delay the project, the state-appointed joint technical committee has now recommended that the government should build a coastal road from Worli to Haji Ali instead of a sea link.
“The committee has deliberated about the alignment of the freeway on the southern side of the Bandra-Worli sea link and felt that a coastal road could be envisaged between the Worli connector of the sea link and Haji Ali,” the committee said in its draft report, based on discussions that took place in its meeting on August 20.
However, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation’s (MSRDC) vice-chairman and managing director, Bipin Shrimali, said the committee has not yet finalised its report.
The 11-member Joint Technical Committee, headed by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Subodh Kumar, was appointed in April to decide on what is more viable and economically feasible – a sea link or a coastal road.
The committee’s new recommendation may cost a lot less than the proposed sea link. However, the project is likely to put the project once again on a slow footing, as the state government has not informed Reliance Infrastructure, its private partner, about the change in plans.
The state government has been repeatedly changing its stand on this issue. In June 2010, MSRDC had signed an agreement with Reliance Infrastructure to build a 5.5 km sea link between Worli and Haji Ali, at a cost of Rs3,500 crore. Work on the project was scheduled to begin in December 2010.
In February this year, the MSRDC decided that a coastal road could be built between Haji Ali and Worli at one-third the cost of a sea link. MSRDC, which was planning to reclaim part of the sea for the project, had expected that the reclamation would be easier due to the new Coastal Regulation Zone laws.
However, in April, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan overturned this decision and recommended a sea link between Worli and Haji Ali.