A detailed project report on a proposed coastal freeway to link south Mumbai to the far western suburbs will be ready in three months with the help of experts from the Netherlands, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said after signing an agreement with the government of the Netherlands.
According to the agreement, the Netherlands government, will offer its advice and technical expertise to plan a coastal road a significant portion of which will stand on reclaimed land. The plan is to integrate the proposed road with the Metro rail lines and also offer tourism and recreation facilities along the road. “History is repeating itself. Dutch experts had also helped in the major reclamation that had brought the seven islands of Mumbai together,” said Fadnavis.
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Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands said, “The topography of the Netherlands is very similar to Mumbai. Cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and nearly half of the Netherlands are below sea level. We have already given a presentation on how the coastal road could be constructed with minimum damage to the environment. We focus on creating natural barriers against flooding.”
Dutch experts have also recommended the probable linking of the coastal road with the proposed Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro rail corridor. The plan suggests exploring the option of an underground Metro that could be connected to the newly-planned stations of the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor by underground tunnels with moving walkways like at airports.
The plan by the Netherlands highlights several benefits of a coastal road on reclaimed land such as minimum disruption to traffic during construction, obviating the need for land acquisition, scope for marinas, parks, beaches, cycling tracks, and new fishing harbours.
In addition, the plan says the coastal road will also protect the city against rising sea level, and create lagoons that can be used as storm water buffers to curtail flooding during monsoons.
Two Dutch government experts had visited Mumbai last month to discuss how best to execute the plan for a coastal road integrated with a Metro line. In 2011, Dutch expert Ronald Waterman had visited Mumbai and given a presentation to former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan about possibilities of scientific reclamation in Mumbai.
According to a 2011 feasibility study, the 34-km coastal road would involve the reclamation of around 160 hectares of land, of which 9.8 km would stand on land reclaimed from the sea and around 8 km from the reclamation of mangroves.
There has been stiff opposition to a reclamation of land for a coastal road from environmentalists and fishermen who are concerned that it will alter the coastline, causing erosion of beaches, change sea levels and tidal currents, deplete vegetation cover and impact growth of mangroves. Currently, the Maharashtra government is awaiting a clearance for the project from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as present norms completely prohibit land reclamation.