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Why does Mumbai need ₹2,000-crore road, tunnels under SGNP? Environment ministry asks BMC

The 5.96-km Goregaon-Mulund Link Road will involve building twin tunnels of three lanes each under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park

mumbai Updated: Aug 17, 2017 09:17 IST
Manasi Phadke
Manasi Phadke
Hindustan Times
Goregaon-Mulund Link Road,Mumbai civic body,BMC
According to the BMC’s submission to the MoEF, the link is important as it will cut travel time between Goregaon and Mulund by an hour and also considerably reduce congestion on the Western Express Highway (WEH).(HT File)

One of the Mumbai civic body’s most ambitious infrastructure projects, the Rs2,000-crore Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, may take longer than expected to get off the blocks. The Union environment ministry has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to “clearly establish” the need for the proposed road, as it passes through the ecologically-sensitive Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

The 5.96-km Goregaon-Mulund link road will involve building twin tunnels of three lanes each under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to connect the Goregaon Film City and Mulund near Amar Nagar. To implement the project, the BMC will need to divert 21.5 hectare of forest land, which would be the area of the tunnel under the national park. The project will also involve the chopping of 625 trees.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) also indicated that the civic body must improve conditions of existing roads for better traffic dispersal. It told the civic body to conduct traffic simulations on existing east-west road links as against the potential traffic flow on them if they are made pothole-free in all seasons and all illegal construction is removed.

The project came up before the MoEF’s expert appraisal panel on industrial areas, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), roads and highways on August 9 to finalise the Terms of Reference for an environment clearance. According to minutes of the meeting, which were released this week, the panel raised questions on the cost and benefit of the project, and sought more information to prove if the road was required at all.

The panel also asked the BMC to provide a comprehensive road development plan for the region, including proposals of agencies such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).

The panel said the civic body should consider projects that have already been approved, such as Metro lines and the east-west connectivity these will provide, and the coastal road, and consider if the proposed Goregaon-Mulund link road is still necessary. “Although the committee recognised the need for better east-west connectivity in Mumbai, the committee was not satisfied on certain items,” the panel said in the minutes.

Sanjay Mukherjee, BMC’s additional municipal commissioner, however, said, “The BMC made its presentation for the Goregaon-Mulund link road to the MoEF on August 9. We got a positive response and were satisfied.”

According to the BMC’s submission to the MoEF, the link is important as it will cut travel time between Goregaon and Mulund by an hour and also considerably reduce congestion on the Western Express Highway (WEH).

A BMC official, who did not wish to be named, said, “After finalising the Terms of Reference, we are anyway supposed to study all these aspects and submit a report to the MoEF. There is an entire process that the MoEF is eliminating if it is asking us to justify the necessity of the project at this point.”

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 09:15 IST