After VIPs, now pandal delays use of Eastern Freeway

While the Eastern Freeway, constructed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), was finally inaugurated yesterday afternoon at the hands of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, sources from the MMRDA said the freeway would be thrown open for motorists only after 1 pm today as dismantling the pandal erected for the inauguration programme would take time.

Delegates and  other VIPs sit under the pandal, which was set up for the inauguration of the Eastern Freeway. The pandal will be dismantled this morning, causing further delay. Pic/Bipin Kokate

A source said, “Labourers worked non-stop to erect the pandal. Owing to the rains, as a precautionary measure, dismantling work cannot be done in the night.” Though several motorists thought they might use the freeway immediately after inauguration, the pandal constructed at the Orange Gate-end covered both the carriages of the freeway, forcing MMRDA officials to keep the freeway off-limits for motorist despite inauguration. MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawathkar said, “We have already instructed the contractor to dismantle the pandal at the earliest so that the freeway can be opened for the motorists.”

What the CM said
“Mega projects such as Eastern Freeway will make Mumbai a world class city. Most importantly, the freeway is toll-free. It will not only serve Mumbaikars and change their way of commuting, but will also showcase the pathway to infrastructural growth of the state.”

Asked about the delay, Chavan said, “The inauguration got delayed due to some pending work done in the adjacent tunnel.” Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the freeway was inaugurated to reduce the inconvenience experienced by motorists during monsoon. He also took potshots at the MMRDA for lack of planning while executing skywalk projects.

“The MMRDA is doing a very good job, but at the same time it should do a proper survey while implementing projects like skywalks which are receiving a lukewarm response. These days, skywalks have become a place for morning and evening walks. Pedestrians are also using them to kill time and have small meetings.”¬†

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