In a move that could have major environmental repercussions for the city, the state government is contemplating to reclaim land from the sea and build a 10-km road connecting Haji Ali to Nariman Point.
On February 25, the government had cleared the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation’s proposal to build a part-sea link and part-underground tunnel to connect the Haji Ali to Nariman Point at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore.
The plan was to build a sea link from Haji to Priyadarshini Park, followed by a deep (drill and blast) tunnel via Malabar Hill to Tambe Chowk and then a cut-and-cover tunnel from Tambe Chowk to Nariman Point.
The Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link is the third part of the Western Freeway Sea Link Project, which will link Versova to Nariman Point.
But the government now wants MSRDC to look into two options: Reclaim land from the sea and build a road or dig an underground tunnel under the sea from Haji Ali to Nariman Point. MSRDC officials have been asked to give a presentation of both options to Deputy Chief Minister Chaggan Bhujbal, who also heads the Public Works Department.
“We have been asked to give a presentation on constructing a coastal road or a complete tunnel to link Nariman Point to Haji Ali,” said Sonia Sethi, joint managing director, MSRDC.
But both options have their drawbacks. While the tunnel under the sea would turn out to be very expensive, getting regulatory and environmental clearances to reclaim land would be difficult though project cost would be reduced by 1/3rd.
Activists agree that both options are not feasible.
“They are looking at expensive solutions, which will cause ecological problems. The MSRDC should be building the Peddar Road flyover rather than concentrating on the sea link,” said Ashok Datar, transport expert. Environment and heritage activists said building a coastal road without conducting a proper study could spoil the view at Marine Drive.
“We are for scientific and planned reclamation. But a coastal road could spoil the vista of one of the most beautiful parts of the city,” said activist Rishi Aggarwal.