Coastal road won’t ease Mumbai’s traffic woes
Activists want the Rs 13,000 crore road-project to be scrapped. According to them the project will only benefit private car owners and will not help in easing traffic woes of the metropolis. They wanted the government to pay more attention towards mass transportation system which is economical and environment-friendly. Citizens are unhappy with the project as BMC has not even held a single public consultation on the road. Residents say that there is no transparency in the implementation of the project. They are against the reclamation of the coastal land for the project. According to them, the green spaces created will be only 12 per cent of the reclaimed land.
Reclamation work has been going without seeking environmental clearance. Coastal Regulation Zone clearance conditions too have been violated. Residents were trying to reach the BMC but the civic body lacks interest in engaging citizens. Citizens also raised questions about how coastal road will help the city when its access roads are already congested. They wanted the civic body to pay attention to removing traffic bottlenecks in the city. Instead of building the expensive coastal road project residents want the civic body to construct better schools and hospitals.
The activists also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that the project requires an environmental clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2016 which is lacking. On April 11, Bombay High Court had listed petitions of activists and fishermen community for hearing on April 23. The civic body had verbally assured that no new reclamation would take place until next day to which the activist’s counsel said that there should be a written order for the status quo to be maintained on reclamation.
Image Courtesy: Urban-Hub.comThe estimated cost of the project has increased from Rs 222 crore per km freeway in 2011 to Rs 1,316 per km for the 10 km of its southern section. If the project sees the light of the day it will go on to become the most expensive project in the city. The cost per kilometer for moving one commuter on the road works out to 25 times more than that of the metro. Moreover, users will have to pay the toll for using the coastal road. The work on the coastal road started in October last year and is expected to be completed within four years. Since Mumbai is facing space crunch land will have to be reclaimed from the sea. The city has one of the lowest per capita of open spaces in the world. The project also threatens to destroy the livelihood of fishermen in the city as many of them have come forward to protest against it.
Ownership of cars is growing at an unprecedented rate in the city and it is increasing at 9.8 per cent a year from 2014 to 2018. Due to the rise in vehicular population, the city is witnessing massive traffic jams. In 1998 the share of public trips (buses and trains) was 78 per cent while that of personal vehicles (cars, auto) was 22 per cent. But in 2018 the share of public trips has declined to 61 per cent while that of private trips have increased to 39 per cent. This is not good news for a city like Mumbai which is one of the overpopulated cities of the world facing space crunch.
The Supreme Court modified order of the Bombay High Court and permitted contractors Larsen & Toubro, HCC-HDC joint venture and other agencies to go ahead with the work but an added condition that they cannot commence fresh works in any new location. The apex court also asked the high court to hear a bunch of petitions against the project on June 3 or at any date immediately. The SC has given nod to contractors to go ahead with the project but at their own risk. Finally, Mumbai needs an effective public transport system to serve its increasing population.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author.