The 22-km high-speed Eastern Express Freeway project that will help motorists get to the eastern suburbs faster will be thrown open to the public by year-end.
The salt commissioner on Wednesday gave a formal No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the project to the state’s urban development department that had been pursuing this issue.
The elevated freeway project involved building on a patch of one-km of two salt pan lands, which was not cleared by the salt commissioner, who is the supervisory authority for salt pan lands.
The project is 70% complete and the implementing agency, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), had been trying hard to get the salt commissioner’s consent.
“The salt pans — Dadkhudai and Hormos — fall in the way of the freeway. With the salt commissioner giving his approval today, the project can finally meet its deadline and be complete by year-end,” said an urban development department official, on condition of anonymity.
Getting clearance was an uphill task for the state and the issue was raised by the state’s principal secretary (urban development), TC Benjamin, during the group of ministers (GoM) meeting on salt pan lands in New Delhi on March 18.
Union home minister P Chidambaram, who heads the GoM, had then directed the salt commissioner to issue permission by March 31.
The salt commissioner sought permission of the solicitor general before granting MMRDA the go ahead.
There are 5,000 acres of salt pan lands in the city.
Developers and state government is hoping to open this land up for city’s development but the move has faced stiff opposition from the Centre so far.