The proposed coastal road project that is being pushed by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan may make the controversy-ridden 4.3 km Peddar Road flyover unnecessary.
An indication that the flyover, pending since 2000, will get shelved, came last week as the Empowered Committee on Mumbai makeover decided to check the feasibility of altering the plan by building a viaduct or a bridge instead of the flyover. However, the move has irked Jaidutt Kshirsagar, the minister in charge of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the agency executing the project.
“The Peddar Road flyover does not come under the purview of the Empowered Committee. We are going ahead with the project and it is currently pending with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for a final clearance,” said Kshirsagar.
He also pointed out that the coastal road project had not got a green clearance and that it would be unfair to stop other projects in anticipation of the coastal road. The flyover has been delayed due to environmental reasons as well as protests by locals. It had to go through design and alignment alterations twice to get a go-ahead from the state coastal body and the environment ministry. MoEF had recommended a public hearing on the project but the hearing carried out in July was inconclusive.
The empowered committee suggested building of a viaduct instead of the flyover as members expressed concern over traffic dispersal at Mahalaxmi. This bridge is half the length of the proposed Peddar Road flyover but experts said constructing this bridge too will lead to chaos.
The impending row over the flyover is reflective of the confusion in the government over the Western Freeway project. While chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is keen on the coastal road project as it is a cheaper and safer option to sea links, his allies in the cabinet, the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) ministers, are sceptical. Kshirsagar, who is from the NCP, is reportedly irritated that his department’s projects including the Worli-Haji Ali sea link have been held up because of the coastal road proposal.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had also said recently that getting environmental approval for the coastal road project seemed “impossible” but it had delayed other projects.