Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation’s (MSRDC) newest idea to get the coastal road project started is to build a ‘hybrid coastal road’. According to the proposal, the 35.6-km coastal road could have sea links along certain stretches.
MSRDC is in talks with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), nodal agency for the coastal road project, and state government’s think tank — Mumbai Transformation Support Unit. However, BMC officials have said the idea is unfeasible.
Interestingly, the state government has given a green light to the coastal road project by dropping sea links on the western coast. These sea links were part of the Western Freeway project, where four sea links were planned - Bandra-Worli (BWSL), Bandra-Versova (BVSL), Worli-Haji Ali (WHSL) and Nariman Point-Haji Ali sea links.
The development agency has been successful in building only sea link — 5.6-km BWSL — so far. While the WHSL could not take off owing to differences between the state government and the developer, the BVSL has not got permissions yet.
MSRDC officials claimed that there were many areas where the BMC will not be able to construct the road easily. There are hurdles because of potential threats to huge chunks of mangroves coupled with stiff resistance from residents and fisher folk.
“The BMC has planned tunnels as part of the project that will incur huge expenses in terms of construction and maintenance. Other hurdles include rehabilitation of project-affected people coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances,” said a senior MSRDC official, adding, “If sea links are built, this will expedite the project and help solve the other problems too. We already have CRZ clearances for the sea links.”
Civic officials, however, hinted at that MSRDC’s proposal will not be considered. “We have nearyl finalised the plan to scrap all major tunnels. The joint technical committee in 2011 had favoured coastal road over sea links as it is cheaper. Though we feel the idea is not feasible, the state government has to make a decision,” said a BMC official, requesting anonymity.