Mumbai's coastal road gets final green nod from centre

31 December 2015

The Centre has cleared the final notification for building the controversial 33.2-kilometre coastal road in Mumbai between Nariman Point and Kandivali, a Rs12,000-crore project that Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has been pushing aggressively with the centre ever since he came to power. Officials claim that it would be a one of a kind road in the country, on par with roads in San Diego and Sydney.

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on Wednesday finally gave a green light by issuing a notification that allows the state to reclaim land for construction of the coastal road.

The coastal road clearance has been pending for a number of years as the environment ministry did not permit construction of roads in the sea by reclamation. Land could only be reclaimed for ports and harbours. However Wednesday's notification allows states to reclaim land for building roads.

Maharashtra needs to reclaim 90 hectares of land from the sea for constructing the coastal road.

A top official from the Chief Minister's war room formed to specifically push such infrastructure projects said that the coastal road will be one of a kind not just in the state but in the country. "For the first time India would be having a road kissing the sea as in cities like San Diego and Sydney. This is a very important project as it would go to a huge extent in solving commuting issues in the city.''

Critics however say that apart from marring the city's skyline and environmental profile, the road will only serve VIPs and the swish set living at Malabar Hill, Mumbai's most posh address..

Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta whose agency will be executing the project said that the coastal road was important for the city as Mumbai needed a fifth corridor.

"Mumbai is a linear city and it's choc a bloc with traffic on the rail and road networks. Any disruption on any of these networks leads to a cascading effect on the other networks causing a lot of hardship to people. The coastal road is a necessity as it will reduce the time taken from travelling from the Western Suburbs to South Mumbai," said Mehta.

The move will help address traffic woes, especially the traffic from northwestern suburbs to city.

Senior officials of the state government welcomed the development, saying the central nod would ensure that work on the project starts at the earliest. The project has been pending for the past four years, add officials.

Reports said the notification is in the process of being loaded on the ministry website. The project approval comes after Fadnavis's visit to Delhi in the beginning of November when he met several dignitaries, including urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, finance minister Arun Jaitley and railway minister Suresh Prabhu, to push for some vital projects.

He had recently announced that a nod for the project was around the corner.

The project has been facing stiff opposition from environmentalists, resident groups and transport activists in Mumbai on various counts. Among other things, the project has been criticized for promoting ownership of private vehicles instead of diverting the same funds for improving public transportation systems in congested Mumbai.

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