The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) ambitious project connecting south Mumbai to Ghatkopar has overcome a major hurdle.
The Eastern Freeway got a major fillip after the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) gave clearance to a part of the project, which would overrun mangrove land. The MMRDA claims that they may now be able to finish the entire project by December next year.
The 22-km-corridor is to start from the Prince of Wales Museum in Colaba to the Eastern Express Highway near Ghatkopar. It will be completed in three phases: the first 12-km-stretch from Fort to Anik depot, the second 5-km-phase from Anik to Panjarpol, and third 2.5-km stretch from Panjarpol to Mankhurd and then to Ghatkopar on the Eastern Express Highway.
The freeway is touted to reduce travel time from Colaba to Mankhurd to 35 minutes. However, the project has been stalled due to environmental concerns.
In its meeting on December 22, the MCZMA allowed the MMRDA to cross the Mahul creek, mangroves near Bhakti Park in Wadala and the adjoining BPT pipeline for the Anik-Panjarpol Link Road.
"We are now expecting to complete the first phase from the museum till Anik by June 2011 and the entire stretch by December 2011," said Dilip Kawathkar, joint project director, MMRDA.
Residents from the eastern suburbs presently have two options to reach south Mumbai - take the Eastern Expressway and then move on to Dr Ambedkar Road or PD'mello Road, or take a detour from Sion on to Mahim Causeway to the Tulsi pipe road or the Bandra-Worli sea link.
The Rs 977-crore road would provide an alternate link not only to the eastern suburbs, but also residents of Thane and Navi Mumbai. The freeway will start at the museum, pass along Shahid Bhagatsingh Marg and Wadi Bundar and then enter Mumbai Port Trust areas till Anik near Wadala. The second stretch includes building a complete new road from Anik Junction near Wadala to Panjarpol in Chembur. The MMRDA is also to construct two tunnels under a hill that falls in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre area.
The last stretch includes a 2.5-km road from Panjarpol till Chembur-Mankhurd link road on the Eastern Express Highway.