The coastal road project is top priority of the government and all efforts have been made to put it on fast track, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the state legislative council on Wednesday.
Expressing concern over the inordinate delay in the project, he said public interest litigations related to mega-infrastructure projects often lead to complications delaying work and escalating costs.
Four years ago the government had set 2019 deadline for the Rs 12,500 crore project along the scenic Mumbai coast. However, the cost has been revised to Rs 15,000 crore. The new deadline is 2023.
“I feel we should make a policy decision to ensure PILs in projects above Rs 100 crore which relate to public welfare should be decided in a time-bound manner in the court. This would help both in execution of the project within the timeline and also checking cost escalation,” he said. Fadnavis was responding to Congress-NCP members’ questions on the delay in the coastal road project.
While outlining the entire process from its conception to permissions sought from multiple departments such as the ministry of environment and ministry of urban development, Fadnavis said, “We are trying hard to expedite the project. The completion of the project will bring huge relief to Mumbaikars who travel between Nariman Point and Kandivali suburbs.”
“In record time our government got all permissions from the Centre for starting the project. But PILs landed the project in court delaying work. Any project which gets legally entangled leads to cost escalation,” he said.
In case of underground Metro work, “Some people filed PILs in the High Court. In one PIL the petitioners demanded work should not be done in the morning. In the second PIL, petitioners prayed that the work should not be allowed at night. Now, it is a trying time for courts when such matters come up,” he said.
“Unfortunately, because of work delay of nine to ten months, the project cost went up by Rs 1,000 crore. In case of coastal road, the government is fully committed to protect the rights and livelihood of fishermen. Similar issues cropped up during the construction of the Bandra-Worli Sealink,” he said.
Responding to Opposition’s questions related to development of koliwadas, he said, “We have to reckon that this is the first time the government has taken the initiative to bring koliwadas, gaothans and tribal areas within the Mumbai development plan. We have completed the process of demarcating areas for 12 koliwadas. The revenue department has been entrusted with the task.”
Koliwadas are old fishermen colonies dotting the island city and suburbs. Officials believe there are 40 koliwadas. Earlier, these were omitted from the development plan.