Has the coastal road project thrown cold water on the Bandra-Versova Sea Link plan?

With the state government gung-ho about connecting Kandivli and Nariman Point along the western coast, MSRDC is unsure what will happen to the Bandra-Versova sea link, for which two firms had already been shortlisted for bidding

While the state government is upbeat about the coastal road project, after it received a go-ahead from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is unsure about the status of the Bandra-Versova Sea Link.

The coastal road project, touted to connect Nariman Point and Kandivli, began gathering steam in 2011 as the Shiv Sena, BJP and Congress all showed much enthusiasm in executing it. Due to this, MSRDC’s Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link was put on the back burner. Nearly two years ago, the MSRDC had said it would construct the Bandra-Versova Sea Link.

A Cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure in the previous Congress-NCP government had approved the project and the Union Ministry of Environments and Forests (MoEF) had also given it the green signal. In fact, the roads body started the tendering process and had even shortlisted two firms for the financial bidding stage.

The 10.1-km overpass had been planned as a solution to the peak-hour traffic congestion on the Western Express Highway, S V Road and Link Road. Now, with the coastal road project taking centrestage, the sea link seems to have been relegated to the sidelines.

“We had already started the procedure for the implementation of Bandra-Versova Sea Link. But now that the government has shown keen interest in the coastal road project, we don’t know what will happen to our plans for the Bandra-Versova Sea Link,” said an MSRDC official, who refused to be identified.

Coast not clear
Meanwhile, the coastal project itself may face stiff opposition from environmentalists and communities staying along the coast where it has been planned. Residents of Khar and Bandra (West), along with some people from the koliwadas along this line, have opposed the project saying it will not only spoil the scenic beauty of the coast but will also have a negative impact on the environment.

The groups have expressed concern over the need to reclaim land in the sea. Environmentalists and activists have planned an agitation on a large scale against the project. “The coastal road project is a highly misplaced priority of the Government of Maharashtra.

It is surprising, and also questionable, why the government should show so much enthusiasm for this single project when it will not even help in solving Mumbai’s traffic congestion issues. More than 10 projects across Mumbai, which are both relevant and also delayed, are in dire need of attention. But they receive no such enthusiasm from the government,” said Rishi Aggarwal, an environmentalist.

Aggarwal added that besides not solving any traffic issues, the coastal road would also harm the environment and disrupt communities. “I hope better sense prevails,” he told mid-day. Stalin Dayanand, from the NGO Vanashakti, claimed muck and debris from the Metro Line 3 project, which also stretches from south Mumbai to the western suburbs, would be used to reclaim land from the sea.

“The debris that will be dumped into the sea to construct the coastal road will contain harmful chemicals, which will be very dangerous to marine life. They will also be harmful to human health, as many Mumbaikars eat seawater fish,” he said.

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