The much-awaited water transport project along Mumbai’s west coast has hit an environmental hurdle. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), in a recent meeting, denied permission to the Mumbai Maritime Board (MMB) to construct a ferry jetty in Borivali as it would “result in the destruction of mangroves”, delaying the launch of operations.
The west coast boat services would allow passengers to get their four-wheelers on to special decks on boats from the jetties at Borivali to Nariman Point and is aimed at de-congesting road and rail traffic. Officials have pegged the project cost at Rs 2,000 crore.
The MCZMA was hearing an MMB plea for the proposed construction of ferry jetties at Borivali and Gorai. There is an existing boat service between Gorai and Borivali but the MMB wanted to upgrade the current structures. According to the minutes of the meeting, the Borivali jetty, at the east coast of Gorai creek, was proposed to be of the size of 120 m x 10 m.
According to the proposal, concrete crash barriers would be installed on either side of the stretch along the length of the proposed jetty for the safety of passengers and vehicles. “The jetty is proposed to be built in 1562.70 sq meters of CRZ (I A) area and 788.39 sq metres on CRZ (B). Mangrove cutting is not involved,” the MMB’s proposal to MCZMA read.
On either side of Gorai creek is a thick belt of mangroves and various environmental groups have raised objections regarding any construction activity that would damage the mangroves in the area. The MCZMA has found merit in the objections and not granted the MMB any permission. “The proposed jetty would result in destruction of mangroves. The Authority (MCZMA) after detailed deliberation decided to direct the MMB to submit the revised proposal considering the the realignment of jetties in order to avoid the destruction of mangroves,” the MCZMA’s observation read.
Atul Patne, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MMB, said the MMB is “re-looking” at their proposal. “We own 14 acres of land adjacent to the current Borivali jetty … it is the only land parcel available to construct the Borivali terminal that will be used as our jetty for the water transport project. The deadlines have now been deferred,” Patne said. The earlier deadline to commence the construction of the jetty was October 2017.
According to MMB’s plan, around 300 passengers are estimated to cover the 30-35 km distance in 30 minutes using the west coast waterway project daily. Currently, it takes 1 hour 15 minutes to cover the distance by road during non-peak hours.
In a bid to promote water transport in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, had announced in November that his ministry has sanctioned building of passenger jetties at nine locations in the state, including Borivali and Gorai.
The MMB in collaboration with the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) are jointly implementing water transport project along the city’s eastern waterfront. Services between Nerul and Ferry Wharf (Bhaucha Dhakka) and Mandwa and Ferry Wharf are expected to start in March 2018.