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Concerns raised over 20,000-cr. coastal road project

Published On : 07 May 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy: The Hindu   |  Pic On: photo credit: The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday presented the final alignment of the proposed coastal road to a gathering of residents, mainly those living in upmarket sea-facing homes from Girgaum Chowpatty to Worli.

With residents confused about the roads final alignment and what it had in store for them, the Chief Engineer of the Mumbai Coastal Road Project, Mohan Machiwal, addressed the meeting convened by the Indian Heritage Society, Mumbai.

The coastal road a four-lane project will start from the Princess Street flyover at Marine Drive and continue till Kandivali, with a total of 10 interchanges along the way. Expected to cost around ?20,000 crore, the work is expected to begin later this year and continue for an estimated 48 months.

Praising the project, Mr. Machiwal claimed this would be one of the most eco-friendly projects undertaken with only 160 trees being cut and the city’s carbon footprint to be reduced by 1,826 tonnes per annum.

Residents concerned

Despite pronouncing the positive aspects of the road, Mr. Machiwal found it difficult to assuage the concerns of the affected residents. For one, even though he stated that there was no intention to touch any existing structures, he failed to clearly explain how the coastal road would affect the Priyadarshani Park at Neapen Sea Road, where one of the interchanges is situated. When pressed if there would be any changes to the park he attempted to dodge the question, replying with “Please contact my office and we will be happy to show you the development plan on site.”

For architect David Carlos, past experiences needed to be taken into consideration before continuing with this project. “When Bandra creek was reclaimed back in the 70s, large parts of the Versova coast were washed away by the sea by its effects, so how do you justify this high volume of reclamation?” Another resident, Sushil Shroff, said faith in government assurances is misplaced. “The reclaimed land is classified as no development, but in 20-30 years how do we know that that will not change? Governments have a habit of going back on their word.”

Many residents came together to question the need for such a road. The existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link, they said, could be elongated without the hassle of reclaiming land and disturbing the ecology.

Another resident said, “The sea link is a tried and tested model and even if it is a bit more expensive, we need to think about the future. During monsoons the sea comes up to the roads, with the reclaimed land where will this water go?”

Countering Mr. Machiwal’s claims that the coastal road would reduce pollution, they said that the focus needs to be on having lesser cars on the road, not more. “The coastal road is premised on the fact that there will be more cars on the road, but shouldn’t the BMC be focused on changing habits and incentivise more people to buy less cars?” asked a Worli resident.

Added another, “The metro rail is expected to reduce traffic in the city, so how are you predicting a 2% rise in cars without considering other plans?” Mr. Carlos termed the lack of dialogue between the two parties as “ridiculous.”

Neena Parekh, another architect, said the citizens are ‘Mumbaikars’ first, not ‘Mumbai-cars.’ “International cities like Istanbul are being retrofitted and the traffic is off the road. We do not need to spoil the aesthetic of the city with roads and bridges. The four lanes will never be used if we have a metro rail,” Ms. Parekh said.

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