2020: Mumbai heads for infra boom
The New Year will mark many new beginnings for the city’s transport infrastructure – trial runs for two Metro lines, initiation of several Metro lines, and introduction of water taxis to travel from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai by mid-2020. Moreover, integration of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) via roads and Metro, and 60% of the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway is likely to be completed.
The transformation is much-needed for Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, which so far has only one Metro corridor connecting the three suburbs of Versova, Andheri and Ghatkopar, which was made operational in 2014. While many state governments have looked at boosting connectivity between Mumbai and the metropolitan region, an urban agglomeration surrounding the city, it has not been fruitful.
As 2019 comes to an end, HT takes a look at the status of major infrastructure projects in and around the city.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is looking at initiating trial runs for Metro-2A (Dahisar-DN Nagar) and Metro-7 (Dahisar E-Andheri-E) in September 2020. It is also looking at starting civil works for Metro-10 (Gaimukh-Shivaji Nagar), Metro-11 (Wadala-General Post office) and Metro-12 (Kalyan-Taloja), which will give a major boost to connectivity in MMR.
AV Shenoy, a Mumbai-based transport expert, said, “Metro-2A and Metro-7 will provide major relief to those travelling between Borivli and Andheri, both railway and road users.”
While works on Metro-2B (DN Nagar-Mandale), Metro-4 (Wadala-Kasarwadavali) and Metro-6 (Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli) are in progress, MMRDA has also started works on Metro-4A (Kasarwadavali-Gaimukh), Metro 5 (Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan) and Metro-9 (Dahisar E-Mira Bhayander and Andheri E-International airport) a month ago, a senior official from MMRDA confirmed. The official said, “We have started barricading in some parts. For Metro-5, we have also started piling works.”
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground line, is also looking at achieving a major milestone by completing 55km of tunneling in 2020.
BEATING ROAD CONGESTION
In 2019, Mumbai earned the infamous title of being the ‘most traffic-congested city’ in the world as per a study, which stated that the citizens spend 65% more time on roads during peak hours compared to the rest of the world. With the implementation of 337-km of Metro network in MMR, the authority is looking at reducing road congestion by 35%, RA Rajeev, metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA told HT in a recent interaction.
MMRDA, which inaugurated the Bandra-Kurla Complex-Chunabhatti road corridor in 2019, is expected to inaugurate the Kalanagar flyover in 2020. It has also started work on the Chheda Nagar junction improvement plan, to ease congestion on the Eastern Express Highway.
The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) is also aiming to de-congest road traffic by introducing water taxis from the domestic cruise terminal at Princess Dock in South Mumbai to Belapur, Vashi, Airoli and the Kanhoji Angre Island in 2020. “We have already appointed six agencies to start the services. The travel time from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai will reduce considerably,” said Sanjay Bhatia, chairman, MbPT.
The Maharashtra government is also looking at cutting the travel time between Mumbai and its satellite city, Navi Mumbai, with the ₹17,838-crore Mumbai-Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) that will link Sewri in Mumbai to Nhava Sheva in Navi Mumbai. But only 14% of the project has been completed so far and it remains to be seen whether the latest 2022 deadline for the project can be met. It is a crucial project that has been on the cards since the 1980s.
According to officials, the authority is facing some delay and difficulty owing to the shifting of utilities laid under the sea. According to them, the alignment of MTHL passes through a bunch of utilities belonging to the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), etc. “We are also waiting for the tree authority’s approval to cut trees for the work on package one,” an official said. In August, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) held a public hearing to cut 1,004 trees for MTHL.
Another major road project to integrate the MMR on the anvil is a 42.75-km sea bridge, from the proposed Bandra-Versova sea link to Virar (30kms off Borivili), with connectors at Charkop, Uttan, Vasai and Virar. The 17.17-km Bandra-Versova project is estimated to be completed in five years. It is expected to cut down travel time between Bandra and Verova from 90 minutes to 10 minutes.
SAMRUDDHI FOR STATE?
A major portion of the state government’s most ambitious project, a 701-km expressway between Mumbai and Nagpur is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 or January 2021. Vijay Waghmare, joint managing director, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), said, “More than 500 km of the stretch between Nashik and Nagpur is expected to be completed by December 2020 or January 2021.”
The financial closure for ₹28,000 crore of the ₹55,447-crore was completed in September 2019.
The MSRDC has planned 17 townships along the corridor, of which the development plans of eight townships are expected to be released in 2020. With an aim to generate employment, the townships equipped with basic infrastructure and social amenities such as roads, hospitals, schools, colleges, electricity, water supply and fire brigade services. “The nodes will be developed as per the requirement in the area and what the locals want,” Waghmare said.
Both the MMRDA and MMRC held competitions in 2019 to get ideas to address Mumbai’s biggest issue – last-mile connectivity. The first- and last-mile connectivity refers to the mode of transport that people use to reach mass-transit systems like Metro and railways. Mumbaiites heavily depend on autorickshaws and taxis for last-mile connectivity.
From January 2020, Mumbaiites can rent a bike or take a bus from the Mumbai Metro stations to their office/home. Three start-ups, which include a bike-sharing mobile application and a bus aggregator will implement their ideas on a pilot basis on select stations on the Metro-1 line. While bike-sharing will start from DN Nagar station, the bus aggregator is starting four routes from Powai to Saki Naka, Marol Naka, Jagruti Nagar and Ghatkopar Metro stations.
Apart from this, Metro-1 will also have two cycling stretches along the median, likely to be implemented in 2020. MMRC, which held a student competition for station area management, will also look at the ideas that focused on cycling paths, pedestrian zones and plazas around the upcoming Metro-3 stations.
Chandrashekhar Dhage, an architect who keenly follows infrastructure development in the city, said, “As a majority of the work will be completed in 2020, the first half of 2021 will be remarkable for state infrastructure.”
While the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government gave a major push to infrastructure projects in the city, there is an increasing perception that the works might get affected with the change in regime in the state.
A Mumbai-based transport expert, who did not wish to be named, said, “The Sena-Cong-NCP government has already stalled the Metro-3 car-shed and ordered a review of infrastructure projects. This will result in unnecessary delay and cost escalation.”
There is speculation that the government might also re-look at the projects from a financial standpoint given the state of the public exchequer MMRDA is also yet to finalise the loan agreements for Metro-5, 6, 10, 11 and 12. While MMRDA will be undertaking the civil construction in its own budget, it is looking at undertaking loans for procurement of rolling stocks, systems etc.
The expert, further, pointed at how the Congress and NCP have more rural voters, so the push for urban infrastructure may not be the same as under the previous government.
However, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government dispelled this perception during the winter session of the state legislature.
“We have not stalled any project despite such speculation. We are only reviewing the site for Aarey car shed for the Metro-3 corridor all other projects, including the Mumbai-Nagpur highway will be speeded up,” said Jayant Patil, state minister and NCP leader.