Clogged Mumbai gets a coastal road artery

By: | Published: June 9, 2015 1:38 AM

The road is to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore

Mumbai roadThe 35.6 km long road, to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore, is to come up in the engineering procurement and construction mode. (Express Photo)

In a boost to Mumbai’s infrastructure, the Union government on Monday paved the way for another showpiece project in the country’s commercial capital — the 35.6-km coastal road that will connect the central business district of Nariman Point in south Mumbai with Kandivali, a northern suburb.

The road, to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore, is to come up in the engineering procurement and construction mode.

Highly-placed sources in the Maharashtra government said that while the state government will fund the project, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), also the implementation authority, is expected to raise resources from fungible FSI (floor space index).

Essentially, the BMC will charge Mumbai real estate developers for space it was earlier giving free of cost for flower beds, balconies, staircases and terraces. Since 2012, when the BMC initiated collections from fungible FSI, it has collected Rs 6,000 crore, according to information from budget documents.

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In a series of tweets on Monday, Maharashtra chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the project had been given the green signal by the environment ministry. Fadnavis indicated the first round of bids could be called for next month while the developers are expected to be chosen by mid-August. “The coastal road will decongest the traffic of Mumbai and will create 91 hectares of green spaces. Taking Mumbai infra to next standard,” Fadnavis said in a tweet.

The project costs will include a rehabilitation component for fishermen, whose traditional half-acre fish drying yard will be affected. “While their houses will not be displaced, the fishermen have requested to be compensated for the loss of the fish yard,” BC Khatua, project director, Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) said. MTSU is a government of Maharashtra and World Bank initiative that facilitates the process of Mumbai’s transformation by advising on, coordinating and monitoring projects undertaken to improve quality of life in Mumbai.

The coastal road project was conceived during the previous Congress-NCP regime, after sea links were not found feasible due to high costs involved. According to rough estimates, if three sea links were to be constructed between Nariman Point-Haji Ali, Haji Ali-Worli and Bandra-Versova, as was being proposed earlier, the cost would have run up to levels of Rs 25,000 crore.

On Saturday, the Maharashtra government had also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Netherlands government for obtaining technical advice on the feasibility of building a metro track along the proposed coastal road connecting north and south Mumbai. Apart from the natural escalation in cost due to inflation, sources say that there might be some additional cost as some sections, where the road will pass over mangroves, will be made on stilts. Also, the earlier plan accounted for just one tunnel. However, now there could be an additional tunnel planned between a suburb in the eastern side of the city to south Mumbai, so that more people can use the road.

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