BMC plans to generate electricity by putting up solar panels along Mumbai coastal road

According to the plan, BMC will have to identify space on the cycle track or median (divider) that will be constructed as part of the ongoing coastal road project
In Mumbai, the coastal road will be the first intra-city road to get solar panels and later other arterial roads also might be considered. (/HT PHOTO)
In Mumbai, the coastal road will be the first intra-city road to get solar panels and later other arterial roads also might be considered. (/HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 13, 2021 08:40 PM IST
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By Mehul R Thakkar, Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has planned to generate electricity from the 10-km-long stretch of the Mumbai coastal road project by setting up solar panels.

State environment minister and Mumbai suburban guardian minister Aaditya Thackeray has asked the BMC to identify space for installing solar panels on the coastal road between Nariman Point and Worli, which has been under construction since October 2018.

According to the plan, the civic body will have to identify space on the cycle track or median (divider) that will be constructed as part of the ongoing coastal road project. The plan was revealed by Thackeray last week at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to climate change along with BMC officials.

Thackeray said, “The coastal road will have more than 90 hectares of green space. We want to have carbon sequestration using multiple measures. The first and foremost is we would be having a global call for design for landscape and trees to have dense urban forest, enough for carbon capture. There is already a cycle track and walking pathway, along with a huge promenade towards the sea, and I have asked the BMC to explore the idea to have solar panels either over the cycle track, or the median to see if we can generate solar energy.”

Thackeray added, “However, none of the open space would be encroached on by the solar panels. For Mumbai- Nagpur, I have pitched for solar farms along the highway alignment, because of which, we would have the potential of 250 MW generated. This is different; we may give the electricity to the grid as well.”

Similarly, the Maharashtra State Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is constructing the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, has proposed to install solar panels on the expressway which is expected to be thrown open fully next year. The plan to install solar panels was mooted by the MSRDC in July 2016. Mumbai Coastal Road might be the first intra-city road to have solar panels generating electricity for public consumption.

A month ago, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) also signed the MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to conduct feasibility studies of the establishment of solar power projects on the available vacant land parcels with NHAI and rooftops of NHAI buildings/ structures at a toll plaza and other NHAI owned buildings/ structures.

In Mumbai, the coastal road will be the first intra-city road to get solar panels and later other arterial roads also might be considered. However, currently, the BMC’s focus, when it comes to the 2,000-km-long road network it handles in the city, is to concretise around 80% of the total road network in the next six to seven years to bring down the menace of potholes.

Mumbai-based architect Rahul Kadri of IMK Architects, who is working with the BMC on the Malabar Hill walkway project said, “It is a good idea to have solar panels on the cycle track, medians, on top of the tunnels or the entrance of the tunnel. This will also go with the design. However, the solar panels should not be installed on green space considering that space will not be usable later.”

The construction work of the 12,700 crore coastal road was started in October 2018, and since then the project has been in the news for environmental issues. In July 2019, the Bombay high court (HC) put a stay on the project citing that it needed to have environmental clearances.

The coastal road project measuring around 10km between Princess Street flyover and Worli-end of Bandra-Worli sea link was earlier expected to be ready by July 2023. However, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which initially delayed the delivery of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) from China. Also, the BMC had to tweak its plan to not use Chinese experts for the assembling of the TBM in the backdrop of border tensions between India and China.

Currently, the BMC has completed over 40% of the civil works for the coastal road project and over 1-km tunnel works out of the total 1.9-km tunnelling is completed. The BMC recently also appointed the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for carrying out a comprehensive scientific survey to scrutinise the loss of lives of the fishing communities due to the ongoing coastal road project.

Meanwhile, the coastal road project was originally planned between Nariman Point and Kandivli, claiming it will ease traffic for those travelling between north and south Mumbai. However, now there is a question of whether there should be a coastal road or a sea link beyond Versova to connect to the suburbs. The state is yet to take a call on it.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021