The Garland Expressway project, which was presented to the union environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday, is being touted by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and many state government officials as the panacea to the city's motorists' woes.
But poor planning, improper traffic dispersal systems and lack of public transport may turn the garland into a Rs 34,100 crore millstone, according to transport experts.
"Mumbai's traffic situation can improve only when the government decides to limit the number of vehicles that clog the roads. The policies, however, instead of improving public transport system are directed towards getting more cars on the roads," said Ashok Datar, transport expert.
Road length in Mumbai has increased by 148% from 777 km in 1951 to 1,930 km in 2009. Vehicles, on the other hand, have increased by 3500% from an estimated 49,000 vehicles in 1951 to nearly 18 lakhs in 2011. Nearly 200 cars are added everyday to Mumbai's roads.
The growing congestion on city roads which is likely to get worse prompted the government to come up with the ambitious plan to create a 320-km ring road running around the periphery of the city along its coast. Many of these roads vary in width from eight to six lanes and will play a huge role in increasing the cities road network.
But Datar said that ring roads and sea links serve only the city's vehicle owners - a mere 2.9% of our population.
Transport expert Sudhir Badami said that such projects would be useful only if the government gives equal importance to public transport systems by including bus rapid transit systems in these projects.
But the government's present plan has no provisions to set up bus transit systems or simultaneously improve the public transport system.