Dutch intervention could mean a ‘tweaked’ coastal road plan

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 10, 2015 01:04 IST

Plans for the city’s coastal road project may see some major tweaking if the proposed collaboration with the Dutch government and its private sector comes through. From integrating Metro 3 and Metro 2 lines to initiating water transportation facilities, a blueprint for the project prepared by two Dutch experts invited by the state government, has now proposed major tweaks in the project.

However, these tweaks may end up leading to more reclamation of land — a prospect that environmentalists are severely opposed to.

In March, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked the Netherlands government for technical expertise on the coastal road project. Accordingly, two Dutch government experts – Ben Spiering and Harry van Huut – drew up a plan, which has impressed the state government.

According to the proposed plan, the coastal road be transformed from an eight-lane road running along the city’s western coast, into a multi-modal transport corridor.

It has also proposed that the second line of Metro – running from Dahisar to Mankhurd via Bandra – be partially merged with the third Metro route, which runs between Colaba and Seepz, Andheri. This merged Metro route, the report has suggested, must run at the same level as the coastal road.

These stations, according to the report, will be connected to the coast by moving walkways. The report suggests the stations can be planned in a way that it serves high-density areas such as Grant Road, Girgaum and Kalbadevi. The biggest advantage the report seeks to offer is that such realignment could rid the Metro of its current controversies of land acquisition, especially in areas such as Girgaum and Kalbadevi.

Arend Gouw, Netherlands Consul in Mumbai, said, “We want it to be more than a road. Hence, apart from the mere technical aspects, we have also suggested more stakeholder involvement as well as building with nature, rather than building in nature.”

Mumbai First, which has been involved with the collaboration, said the project needed more citizen consultation. “The Dutch bring with them great expertise and experience on reclamation which does not impact nature. Once the report is ready it should and will be open to discussion and healthy scrutiny as well,” said Shishir joshi. CEO, Mumbai First.

These developments, along with the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ nod for allowing reclamation for the project, may mean a large area of land could be reclaimed. “How can such a project be nature-friendly? Such large reclamation of sea will create havoc with our tidal patterns. We will stand to lose all our beaches if such reclamation comes through,” said environmental activist Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti.

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