For greater than five years, Mumbai’s controversial coastal avenue challenge has confronted stiff competition from environmentalists, urban planners, delivery professionals and neighborhood fishing communities that could be displaced by means of the mission. Their protests did not forestall the Union government from granting, in May 2017, environmental clearance for the multi-crore task that entails reclaiming huge portions of the ocean to construct a 29.2 km avenue along along Mumbai’s western shoreline. Now that production work for the ten-km south phase of the coastal road has started, a brand new group of protesters has joined the refrain in opposition to the challenge: regular residents from the equal car-proudly owning demographic that the coastal avenue is being constructed for. In early February, numerous residents of Breach Candy and Worli – south Mumbai localities – formed informal collectives in their neighbourhoods to raise public awareness about the risks of the coastal road.
Each collective has greater than two hundred individuals of their WhatsApp groups, which include a few residents from different elements of Mumbai, and they have mutually organised at the least two public meetings with specialists and stakeholders to raise questions about the task. In a web petition they started out in February, the agencies have demanded that nation and civic authorities forestall all construction work at the coastal road till citizens are given whole data approximately its purpose and effect at the environment, vehicular visitors, public shipping and pedestrian motion. The agencies also held a protest march on March 10 to attract attention to the difficulty. “The coastal road isn’t always in public interest,” stated Radhika Sabavala, the top of a non-income publishing residence and a member of the Worli citizens’ collective. “It is a completely serious intervention inside the city with large repercussions. No critical visitors disbursal research had been carried out yet, the modern day environmental effect record has no longer yet been made public, and the road could have an detrimental effect on the livelihood of the fishing groups and the delicate coastal ecology.” For maximum members of the residents’ collectives, the catalyst for coming collectively in protest changed into the alarming speed of reclamation that commenced off the coast of Breach Candy within the beginning of January. “The work has been taking place non-forestall, all day and night, with trucks coming to sell off debris into the ocean at a horrifying pace,” stated Mamta Dalal Mangaldas, a author and member of the Breach Candy group, which calls itself Citizens for Responsible Development. “We are soliciting for is to stop this paintings till citizens are given right solutions approximately the many inconsistencies in the undertaking.”
Rs 1,2 hundred crore in line with kilometre The coastal road challenge has been deliberate in two major sections – south and north. The cost only for the 10-km south section is set to be Rs 12,seven hundred crore – more than Rs 1,2 hundred crore in line with kilometre – making it one of the maximum high-priced public infrastructure tasks inside the country. (The challenge’s typical value is doubtful because its information have now not been made public).
The coastal street become first proposed in 2012 and become taken up as an election promise by way of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which got here to electricity in Maharashtra in 2014 with assist from the Shiv Sena. The assignment, in step with the state government, will decongest Mumbai’s roads through providing an opportunity to the Western Express Highway, an arterial avenue that stretches from Bandra in suburban Mumbai to Dahisar, 25 km to the north. The assignment’s south segment will run from the southern commercial enterprise district of Nariman Point to Worli, and be built via the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The north phase, extending from the prevailing Bandra-Worli sea link to the northern suburb of Kandivali, could be constructed with the aid of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation. Reclamation for the coastal road will generate 90 hectares of latest land, which the government claims can be used for inexperienced spaces and public facilities. However, distinctive drawings and plans for this reclamation are but to be released to the public. Since the road might be toll-free, the economic burden of preserving the coastal road will fall on Mumbai’s tax payers. However, the road will cater to barely 1.25% of Mumbai’s populace – folks that personal motors and travel alongside the metropolis’s western coast.
Mangaldas, Sabavala and different members of the citizens’ collectives belong to that 1.25%, which makes their protests in opposition to the coastal road even more considerable. The residents’ companies have raised three essential questions about the coastal avenue: whether or not the road is needed at all, whether it’s going to really decongest Mumbai, and whether the huge construction fee, which will utilise public cash, is justified.
The danger of flooding One of the largest problems with the coastal avenue is the ecological threat it’ll pose to the metropolis. Up till 2011, Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines allowed roads on coastlines best inside the shape of bridges on stilts, so the float of tidal waters could now not be affected. However, a 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone notification allowed reclamation-primarily based roads in “super instances”. The Maharashtra government has now not yet publicly defined why the coastal street might be counted as an first-rate case, however it has been given primary environmental clearance to reclaim 90 hectares of land from the ocean. This reclamation will push the boundary of the current coastline via as a minimum 100 metres in the direction of the ocean, which could result in trade in tidal styles, erosion of beaches and a blockage of the city’s natural drainage systems alongside the whole western coast. This could placed Mumbai at a high danger of flooding.
“The Maharashtra government has claimed that the coastal road is not possibly to have any effect on tidal patterns within the north and south of the metropolis,” stated Cyrus Guzder, an urban activist and a trustee of the non-profit Bombay Environmental Action Group. “But we now recognize that even small scale reclamation for the Bandra-Worli sea link has already brought on erosion of Dadar seaside. So the government has no proper to go ahead with the coastal road without understanding the environmental effect.” Since publishing an Environmental Impact Assessment for the task in 2016, Mumbai’s municipal corporation has altered the alignments of portions of the coastal road. “But this final alignment has no longer but been made to be had to the general public, and a sparkling environmental effect assessment has not but been carried out,” stated Mangaldas.
Will it decongest? Besides ecological issues, the feasibility of the coastal road is itself beneath question. The street become proposed in accordance with a transportation survey that civic government had carried out in 2006, extra than 12 years ago. Transportation surveys take a look at all kinds of public and private delivery to be had in a metropolis that allows you to decide future transport needs. “The 2006 examine has no longer been made public, and no clean transportation have a look at has been carried out seeing that then to justify the coastal street,” stated Rahul Kadri, an architect and member of the citizens’ collective from Breach Candy. “The authorities is spending more than Rs 1 lakh crore to build 172 km of metros to decongest Mumbai, but that too was no longer taken under consideration. If the Metro three path is meant to service ninety lakh human beings, received’t commuters prefer that over the coastal avenue?”
In 2016, in place of a complete transportation survey, the civic government conducted a small, seven-day visitors observe in elements of South Mumbai. “They survey became just a head remember of the automobiles passing up and down one of the roads, however it did not examine site visitors on Warden Road or August Kranti Road [in South Mumbai], where site visitors exiting the coastal avenue can be directed,” stated Guzder. Both Warden Road and August Kranti Road are fairly slim roads that currently permit for just lanes of site visitors in each direction. Since the coastal street is meant to be an 8-lane dual carriageway, visitors jams at the bottleneck are inevitable. “The traffic study claims that these roads will be widened from 9 metres to 27 metres as a way to disburse coastal road site visitors, but how will they do it?” asked Mangaldas. “By demolishing the homes on the facet?”
A disaster for the city In stark evaluation to the extravagant budget for the coastal road, the residents’ group points out the financial struggles of Mumbai’s floundering BEST buses. “The municipal employer is willing to spend Rs 12,000 crore at the coastal avenue for less than 2% of the populace, but it isn’t always inclined to provide the BEST even Rs 450 crore to upgrade its bus offerings,” stated Mangaldas. “If buses are improved, at the least 10 lakh human beings would be able to travel. Shouldn’t they be using public money to enhance public transport?” Members of the residents’ collectives are actually seeking to take their petition in opposition to the coastal avenue from door-to-door of their neighbourhoods, which will raise extra awareness about the negative effect the road should have on the town. “Many human beings suppose that a brand new road to whiz over will resolve their traffic congestion problem, but they have now not but understood that the coastal street could be like a dam that could flood the city,” said Mangaldas. For Kadri, this is an critical reason for speakme out approximately the coastal street controversies. “For me, individually, the coastal street would be great. But for the metropolis, it will likely be a disaster,” he said. “And we want the municipal employer to recognize that there are enough folks who are objecting to this avenue.” Previous Residents at a protest march in opposition to the coastal road on March 10. Photo: Citizens for Responsible Development A resident with a signal about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation at a protest march on March 10. Photo: Citizens for Responsible Development Residents at a protest march against the coastal road on March 10. Photo: Citizens for Responsible Development A resident with a signal approximately the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation at a protest march on March 10. Photo: Citizens for Responsible Development Next1 2