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Will MMRDA put Rs 350-crore Wadala plot to commercial use?

At a time when Mumbai’s roads are reeling under severe vehicular traffic, a decision by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) threatens to worsen matters.

 Inter-State Bus Terminal
The Inter-State Bus Terminal was supposed to come up on a 4.5-hectare plot situated next to the Wadala Truck Terminus. File Pic

In 2010, the MMRDA had proposed to build a Rs 350-crore Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT) at Wadala which has now been put on hold. Instead, the 4.5 hectare plot situated next to the Wadala Truck Terminus will now be used for commercial purposes, claim sources in the Mumbai traffic police.

Almost 22.63 lakh vehicles ply on the 1,941-km-long stretch ofMumbai’s roads every day. Last year, 20 lakh vehicles plied oncity roads. With such high levels of traffic congestion, privatebuses moving in the city and across states add to bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Further, the Mumbai traffic police claimed that there are a startling 1,117 vehicles per kilometre in Mumbai and these buses are often found parked on several arterial roads, which only adds to the traffic menace. The ISBT would have provided the much-needed parking space for the buses. In such circumstances, one wonders what the MMRDA is thinking by putting the ISBT project on hold.

A Mumbai traffic police officer, on condition of anonymity, claimed, “The MMRDA has kept the ISBT project on hold. This land meant for parking these private buses will be used for commercial purposes due to the ever-increasing property rates in Mumbai.”

Another Mumbai traffic police officer added that the parked buses make traffic management a nightmare during peak hours in the morning and evening. Several buses are found on PD’mello Road, Sandhurst Road, Dr Ambedkar Road, Elphinstone Road, SV Road, Link Road near Goregaon-Malad stretch and other arterial roads.

Sources in MMRDA, however, claim that they have already started looking out for parking spaces in Thane, Navi Mumbai and beyond Borivli. A senior MMRDA official, requesting anonymity, said, “The final decision to move the truck terminus out of the city is yet to be taken by the government. We, too, prefer the same because we don’t want trucks to enter the city and cause traffic snarls. A proposal has been sent to the government.”

However, the ISBT was not simply a parking space for buses -- it was also meant to control and streamline the otherwise pick-up and drop-off points and prevent indiscriminate parking by private bus operators in Mumbai, which could decongest roads. However with Monorail coming up between Wadala-Chembur, the MMRDA seems to have woken up to the possibilities arising out of holding a plot of land amid skyrocketing property rates.

What is ISBT?
The ISBT was supposed to come up on a 4.5-hectare plot situated next to the Wadala Truck Terminus. Plans included building passenger platforms, food courts, cinema halls, departmental stores, a budget hotel, convenience rooms, rest rooms, recreation centres and baggage rooms. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 350 crore, and it was expected to be operational by 2013. The MMRDA claimed that it wants to transform Wadala into a business hub similar to Bandra Kurla Complex. The body has over 100 hectares of land at Wadala. In May 2010, the MMRDA had fetched a record price of Rs 4,050 crore for a 25,000 square metre plot at Wadala. 

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