SCLR road-widening project in limbo; BMC fails to relocate squatters, acquire land

After the SCLR was thrown open last year, vehicular movement on the Hans Bhugra Marg, CST Road and Kalina-Kurla Road increased manifold, leading to utter chaos at important junctions during peak hours

The widening of one of the most important road links between the western and the eastern suburbs the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) has hit a major roadblock as the BMC has failed to relocate encroachers and take over land from other agencies.

Encroachments alongside SCLR at Netaji Nagar in Kurla
Encroachments alongside SCLR at Netaji Nagar in Kurla

After the SCLR was thrown open for public use last year, vehicular movement on the Hans Bhugra Marg, CST Road and Kalina-Kurla Road increased manifold. This sudden increase has led to chaos at important junctions.

Narrow roads at the Santacruz and Kurla ends have resulted in ugly traffic jams. Though the civic body has initiated a road-widening project, which it wants to complete by 2016, the local ward office’s slow pace in clearing encroachments could result in unwanted delays.

The widening work of the three roads had commenced on February 28, 2014. The proposal is to widen the roads up to 150 feet, at a cost of R50 crore, making the stretch one of the widest after the Western Express Highway (WEH). Currently, due to encroachment, the width of the 3.2-kilometre-stretch has been reduced to somewhere between 40 feet to 75 feet.

Reasons for delay
Time taken by the Mumbai University in handing over the land to the road department is the biggest hurdle in widening this stretch. About 40 feet of space within the university is needed to widen the stretch, for which the BMC has already compensated the varsity by giving FSI and part OC (Occupation Certificate) for a newly constructed building.

“Despite getting the compensation, the varsity is yet to hand over the plot. While the authorities at the Army girls hostel and private developers have agreed to give their land, a government body like Mumbai University is unnecessarily delaying in the project,” said a senior road department officer.

On Hans Bhugra Marg, there are 250 structures out of which 117 are legal and their owners are eligible for rehabilitation as PAPs (Project-Affected Persons). A few months back, the civic body allotted the PAPs accommodation in Mankhurd. However, they came back to their shanties, claiming that the houses allotted to them were already occupied.

Road Department Chief Engineer Ashok Pawar said, “From our side, the widening work of SCLR has been initiated. The delay is from the ward office, as they are supposed to take care of the encroachment and acquire the land from other agencies. Once this is done, we will be able to complete the work at the earliest.”

S R Singh, assistant municipal commissioner for H/east Ward, said, “The process of shifting existing structures on the proposed road line has commenced. The delay is because of political interference and non-availability of space for relocation. Notices were issued to all the owners.

There were a few issues with the Mumbai University, but now they are ready to give the land.” According to a source from the ward office, intervention from a state minister in the current government is the root cause of the problem.

Motorist speak

Sandesh Tiwari, Santacruz resident, who travels daily to Chembur for work
Before SCLR was opened, very few motorists used the Hans Bhugra Marg and hence there weren’t any traffic issues. Now, all those who want to go to Chembur from Santacruz use SCLR and this has resulted in traffic jams during evening and morning peak hours. Wide roads are the need of the hour on this stretch.

Sudhir Pedamkar, Vile Parle resident
What is the point of having SCLR if it can’t ease traffic jams? BMC should focus on widening the road ASAP, so that commuters get relief and reach their destinations faster.

Official speak

SVR Srinivas, Additional Municipal Commissioner
Two days ago, we had a joint meeting with all the agencies pertaining to widening of the SCLR. A few garage owners aren’t ready to vacate, so we will take action against them with the help of the traffic department. However, the other agencies are ready to give their land for widening. Also, talks are on with the Mumbai University and we will take over their land soon.

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