Although the Rs 11,000-crore coastal road project being planned by the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is supposed to reduce traffic congestion in the space-starved Mumbai, it may, in fact, compound the problem in areas where the entry and exit points have been proposed.
According to a detailed project report made available by the civic body for public scrutiny, there are 12 interchanging entry and exit points to the coastal road. Many of these are on roads that already see heavy traffic throughout the day. Even a slight increase in the number of vehicles plying on these junctions will result in major traffic snarls.
Experts believe the project, aimed at connecting Nariman Point to the western suburbs through a road along the city’s western coast, will only lead to more trouble. “If the state government is serious about solving the problems of traffic and air pollution, then they must first create enough parking facilities for vehicles and have zero tolerance towards illegal parking,” said Godfrey Pimenta, founder of Watchdog Foundation, who sent an objection letter to the civic body. “The city’s roads are in a mess. The coastal road will mean more vehicles, which will create bottlenecks.”
It is more important to improve the mass transit system, which will be more environment-friendly, reduce congestion, save time and be cost effective, said experts.
The island city will suffer the worst once the coastal road is constructed without a proper traffic dispersal plan. For instance, at Breach Candy, the exit will be on Warden Road, right before Bhulabhai Desai Road. The entire stretch already witnesses heavy traffic jams throughout the day.
A few meters away, another exit will be at the Haji Ali junction, which, on an average, has 24,991 vehicles plying daily, according to the report.
Other roads that are likely to be affected are Jagannath Bhosale Marg at Nariman Point, Lala Lajpat Rai Road, Bandra-Worli sea link, Perry Road, Juhu-Versova Link Road, Oshiwara, Malad Marve Road at Kandivli and connecting junctions to these roads.
“It will be tragic if we don’t apply our minds and just focus on constructing the coastal road, which will take at least five to seven years. The coastal road will cater to only 6-10% of the entire population of the city,” said Ashok Datar, a transport expert.
BMC officials, however, claim that all issues will be considered and tackled properly.
“We do not expect bottlenecks to be created, but necessary actions will be taken according to the project report’s suggestions. We are working on the plans,” said Sanjay Mukherjee, additional municipal commissioner, projects.