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Mumbaikars can now expect a pollution free ride along the western coast as the Maharashtra government has submitted its proposal to the Centre to construct 35 km coastal road between Nariman Point and Kandivli in the western suburb. The project, with about 18 access points along the entire road, entails an investment of Rs 8,000 crore. The government will soon appoint the state run Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) or the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as the nodal agency for the project which will be implemented through a joint venture route.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan admitted that the sea link project was not financially viable and therefore the six lane coastal road has been proposed. The project envisages reclamation of land and construction of stilts especially on mangrove patches. Chavan informed that he has submitted the coastal road project proposal to minister of state for environment and forests Prakash Jawadekar during latter's recent visit in the city.
With Chavan's announcement, the government has given a silent burial to the Rs 5,000 crore Worli-Haji Ali sea link project awarded to the Reliance Infrastructure. The concession agreement was signed between MSRDC and Reliance Infrastructure in June 2010 but the project could not take off due to administrative and environmental issues. Reliance Infrastructure will exit from the project. However, the state government has yet to formally scrap the project which would have completed by now.
Sushil Jiwarajka, former chairman of FICCI's western region told Business Standard ''Given the acute shortage of land for expanding mass transport system, the idea of coastal road seems to be the most viable option. Detailed feasibility studies be undertaken at the earliest. Precious time has already been lost on studying various options and it it time to take action and complete the project in a time bound manner.''
However, a government official said that the costal zone regulation (CRZ) clearance is key for the project to take off."The possibility of development of coastal road emerged in February 2011 after the modification to the Coastal Zone Notification where-in construction of roads on stilts have been allowed as a permitted activities. Section 3 of CRZ Notification provides land reclamation as a prohibited activity,'' the official added.
Incidentally, a section of fishing community has already voiced their opposition to the coastal road project. ''The government will have to take the fishing community into confidence before finalizing the proposed coastal road. There are 35 fishermen colonies with more than 1 million population on the western coast. The coastal road will adversely impact the livelihood of those depending on fishing activity,'' said Damodar Tandel, president, Maharashtra fishermen action forum.
Coastal Road Ride for Mumbaikars
*Project is being considered after the revised CRZ notification issued in February 2011
*Government plans to do away with sea link projects citing financial non viability
*MSRDC or BMC to be nodal agency
*Project to be developed through JV route