Mumbai: Maharashtra state government has plans to expand the scope of the ambitious coastal road project in Mumbai, following the Centre’s willingness to modify coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms for the project. A grand addition is now foreseen: A Metro Rail component and a bus rapid transit (BRT) line along the proposed 34-km freeway connecting south Mumbai to the western suburbs.
Senior officials confirmed that the option of setting up two additional lanes for a Metro Rail and another two lanes for a dedicated bus transit network are now on the drawing board for the project that was originally conceived as a six-lane ring road to decongest vehicular traffic.
The coastal road plan entails reclamation of 110 hectares of land. The project had hit a hurdle during the previous Congress-NCP regime over CRZ regulations prohibiting reclamation.
The breakthrough came at a meeting between Union Environment Minister Prakash Jawdekar and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last month, with the former expressing willingness to amend CRZ norms on some conditions.
On Monday, the CM held another discussion with Jawdekar in this regard in Mumbai.
Sources said the Centre was willing to accede to the state’s suggestion that the norms be amended by inserting a clause in the CRZ Notification permitting reclamation for road projects.
The proposal to incorporate a Metro Rail and BRT line aims to strengthen Mumbai’s public transport systems. While the estimated cost of the coastal road is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore currently, the addition of the mass rapid transit systems could push up costs by Rs 7,000 crore.
At least two of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s proposed Metro routes, meanwhile, could return to the drawing board if the coastal road’s Metro Line is okayed, including the Dahisar-Bandra-Mankhurd route and Colaba-Bandra-Seepz route.
While the MMRDA’s routes are brownfield projects and partly underground projects requiring complex rehabilitation of project-affected people, a Metro route on the coastal ring road will ensure a larger span in a shorter time frame, officials said. It would also be a cost-effective option. Official estimates say the cost of setting up an underground Metro Rail route is Rs 800 crore per km, whereas an elevated rail can be built at Rs 220 crore per kilometre.
In case of the coastal road project, the option of a Metro route “at grade” would cost Rs 70 crore per kilometre, senior officials said.
The state hopes to obtain a formal nod from the Centre for the coastal road project soon. It has set its sights on readying the detailed project report and starting work by the year-end.
Meanwhile, on the memorial for warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji off the Arabian Sea, following a legal opinion that the bhoomipujan for the project must be taken up only after the Centre’s green nod, Fadnavis has requested the Centre to complete the necessary formalities before May 1. The state has plans to carry out the bhoomipuja on that day.