Mumbai would soon be home to India's longest passenger water-ways, also touted as water metro, but a similar system for cargo will not happen for the time-being.
The ministry's Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has approved the passenger water transport system on the western coast, not the one in eastern coast, which was primarily to ferry cargo include vehicles.
The apparent reason is that the passenger water transport system could ease traffic in south Mumbai, thereby compensating the environmental loss by construction of six stations for the 55 km long waterway whereas the environmental benefit of cargo waterway would not be substantial.
"With natural environment facilitating, the development of waterways would be an alternative in Mumbai to ease commuting and have on time and fuel consumption," the EAC said, in its final decision.
The committee approved six water transport terminals ---- at Nariman Point, Bandra, Juhu, Versova, Marve and Borivali --- proposed by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation at the cost of Rs 750 crore. In package I, terminals would be built at Nariman Point, Bandra and Juhu and the remaining would be developed in phase package-II.
The offshore developmental activities would include terminal buildings, access roads and amenities such as ticket counters, arrival and departure lounges, restaurants and shops. The onshore development would include berthing and waiting facilities.
The committee has, however, placed strict environmental conditions for the project such as no reclamation of land for the project. The corporation will have to seek approval of Bombay High Court to remove 1000 sq meters of mangroves to build approach roads to terminals and ensure that route of the fishing vessels is not blocked because of the waterway, the EAC said.
The EAC has also instructed that the passenger terminals would be integrated with other public transport systems such as buses and noise barriers would be installed at the post Nariman Point terminal.
Mumbai would be starting point for international quality waterways. The water resource ministry officials said more such waterways have been proposed for Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, whose feasibility studies were being done.