The 22-km bridge is the longest in the country and the second in the Arabian Sea after the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai. The MTHL or Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link is expected to be completed by 2017 and cost Rs.9,630 crore ($1,800 million).
"Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan granted...clearance for the project yesterday (Monday)," Joint Director (Projects), D. Kavathkar of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) told IANS.
The six-lane MTHL will start from Sewri in south Mumbai and will cut through the Thane Creek. It will terminate at Chirle village, near Nhava-Sheva on the mainland near Raigad district, across the Mumbai harbour.
"After completing the relevant formalities in the next two-three months, we hope the execution will start by January 2013," Kavathkar said.
The green signal for the project came after a meeting of the MMRDA Monday which was headed by Chavan.
Originally slated to cost Rs.6,000 crore (2005), the cost was revised to Rs.8,800 crore last year and finally approved at Rs.9630 crore, nearly 60 percent higher than the first estimate.
MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana, while explaining that the cost hike was due to the additional connecting arms on the Mumbai side of MTHL, assured that there will be no more cost-escalations and the approved rate would be frozen.
The MTHL will also provide faster connectivity to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the busy Mumbai-Goa Highway and the upcoming coastal highway.
Planned over 30 years ago, the MTHL will comprise a 16.50 km bridge in the sea across Mumbai harbour and a 5.50 km long via duct approach on the two sides.
The bridge will provide convenient and quick interchanges at Sewri with the Eastern Freeway Project, scheduled to be thrown open by January 2013, and also at Chirle to connect with the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Mumbai-Goa Highway.