The light at the end of the proposed underground tunnel that will connect Borivli to Ghodbunder Road continues to be bleak. While the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has finally begun survey work for the 11-km-long tunnel, sources say the way ahead is full of hurdles as procurement of clearances from several authorities is still pending.
The construction of a tunnel through Sanjay Gandhi National Park is expected to shorten the time taken to travel between Thane and Borivli to just around 10 minutes.
The MSRDC had in 2015 announced the ambitious project of constructing the 11-km long twin tunnel under the SGNP at a cost of around Rs 2,000 crore.
MSRDC managing director R Mopalwar told mid-day, "The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) authorities have given us permission to conduct the survey on foot inside the park. We have begun the survey work." The chief conservator of forest at SGNP, Anwar Ahmed, confirmed this development.
However, the Environment ministry as well as the Defence Ministry and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are yet to give a go ahead. An official from SGNP said, "The tunnel will drastically reduce the travelling time between Borivli and Ghodbunder Road and will be a huge help for daily commuters on that route. But, it will be a daunting task procuring all the permissions as the tunnel would be constructed below a national park. The ASI needs to give its nod as the Kanheri caves are located nearby. The Defence Ministry needs to allow the project as there are defence installations around the proposed area. Getting permission will not be easy."
The tunnel, which seeks to improve connectivity between the Western and Easter Express Highways, is MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde's pet project.
The 6-lane twin-tube tunnel will start at Tikuji-ni-wadi (Thane), pass under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and end at Ekta Nagar, Borivli, on the Western Express Highway.
The project will reduce travel time from the current peak hour duration of 90-120 minutes to a mere 10 minutes.
As per the plans, the tunnel will have three lanes on each side, and there will be two tunnels that will be constructed and the Tunnel Boring Machine technology will be used. The tunnels will be associated with a central 3m wide baby tunnel and the vertical clearance in the tunnel will be 5.50 m and width will be 13.1m. There will be twin tunnels 50 mts apart and each tunnel will consist of unidirectional three lanes.