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Does Mumbai really need more elevated roads, ask experts

Experts call project ‘waste’ as Metro, coastal road will unclog city; PWD says it’s only an ‘option’

mumbai Updated: Oct 13, 2018 23:20 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Mumbai highways,Western Express Highway,Eastern Express Highway
Traffic jam on Western Express Highway at Kherwadi on July 27, 2018.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

While the state public works department (PWD) has undertaken a study to build elevated roads on the Western Express Highway (WEH) and the Eastern Express Highway (EEH), transport experts slammed the idea stating that it is a “duplication” and “waste” of public money as there are other roads and Metro lines being constructed to cater to the same purpose – decongestion of roads.

The PWD, which is in charge of the two express highways, has appointed STUP Consultants Pvt Ltd. to study the feasibility and prepare a detailed plan for the project. Currently, a traffic study is under way to ascertain the existing traffic pattern and estimate its rise over the next decade. The two proposed elevated roads will go over the flyovers and Metro corridors planned on WEH and EEH.

Transport expert Ashok Datar questioned the need of an almost parallel road when other agencies such as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) are constructing a coastal road and Versova-Bandra Sea Link (VBSL) respectively to supplement the existing road network and take private vehicles off the roads. He pointed out that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is also constructing a network of Metro lines to take the load off suburban trains and offer better public transport. Three of the Metro lines will provide north-south rail connectivity. Calling it an “ill-conceived” idea, Datar said, “The state should not even waste resources for consultancy on such a plan. Why are they creating deceptive room for cars? One can’t create extra space for a limited stretch of road, it has to be throughout. It is only creating good business for cement and steel companies, contractors and consultants. The plan should not be pursued. There is a need to push public transport.”

However, a senior PWD official said the department is studying the “option”. “We have not awarded the project. A scientific study is underway, after which, we will know if at all such a road will be needed.”

Experts also questioned the lack of coordination between state agencies while chalking out projects. Datar said the Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA), which was formed for better coordination between different agencies operating transport services, has not met for nearly a year. Datar, a member of UMMTA, said, “No meeting of UMMTA has been convened for nearly a year…in effect, it is dead now.”

Meanwhile, another transport expert, AV Shenoy, stressed on the need for a single planning authority for Mumbai. “There is a need for a centralised transport planning authority. This is clearly wastage of public money owing to independent planning by different agencies without considering effects of the actions of other agencies.”

First Published: Oct 13, 2018 23:20 IST