While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is yet to open the much-awaited Eastern Freeway to the public even though it is ready for use, residents and motorists from the Anik area have begun driving on the Anik-Panjarpol Link Road (APLR) stretch of the freeway, claiming that it is rightfully theirs since it has been constructed with the exchequer’s money.
The MMRDA is yet to officially open the freeway, since none of the ministers or big shots at the Centre approached by the metropolitan body have confirmed their presence to inaugurate it, thanks to their packed schedules. Transport experts and residents from the area feel that rather than waiting for a political celebrity to inaugurate it, MMRDA should open the freeway at the earliest and make commuting easier for them.
Speaking to MiD DAY, transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, “Politicians are taking the public for a ride. And the time has come that people start using the Eastern Freeway perforce as it has been constructed with the taxpayer’s money. When the road is ready, I don’t know what the MMRDA and the government are waiting for. The freeway will only help solve commuters’ woes.”
On Thursday afternoon, when MiD DAY visited the APLR stretch near Anik, we saw many youngsters riding bikes on the APLR, along with other motorists. A resident riding a bike on the APLR on the condition of anonymity said, “I don’t know why the MMRDA is waiting to open the road when its construction has been completed. The authority should immediately throw it open for commuters.”
On Thursday, MiD DAY had reported in its cover story (‘No VIP, no freeway’) how the freeway, which is expected to slash travel time between the eastern suburbs like Chembur and South Mumbai to less than half an hour, is ready to receive traffic. But the MMRDA hasn’t opened it to the public, is waiting to get dates from Congress big fry in New Delhi to inaugurate it.