NEARLY FIVE decades after the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) was first mooted, the first girder of the ambitious Rs 17,000-crore project was launched by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday.
The 22-km sea bridge, which will connect Navi Mumbai and Mumbai, was first conceptualised in the 1960s as an attempt to transform Mumbai from a mono centric to a multi-nucleated urban zone. The project had, however, been stuck in bureaucratic red-tape and environmental issues, including the fear that the structure would affect the natural habitat of fauna in the area.
Uddhav, after launching the girders (support beams used in construction) at Sewri, claimed the state has taken utmost care to ensure that the habitat of flamingos was not destroyed. “I had come to see the project because of the concerns… I took a walk at the construction site and found that flamingos are very much near this area. They have adapted to the construction,” he said.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is said to have installed sound barriers and mufflers across the construction zone, which is located near the habitat of flamingos, to dim the sound made by the machinery at work. Flamingos are migratory birds that fly to Mumbai every winter in search of warmer climes to escape the Siberian cold.
Uddhav exuded confidence that the project will be completed ahead of its September 2022 deadline.
“After the completion of this sea bridge, it is estimated that it will take less than 30 minutes to travel from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai, which now takes around one-and-a-half to two hours,” MMRDA Metropolitan Commissioner R A Rajeev said.
The MMRDA will also be importing customised steel girders from Japan and Vietnam for the sea bridge. The agency was earlier forced to realign the spans between two piers because of the gas and oil pipelines laid on the sea floor. Due to this realignment, the distance between two piers had to be increased from 60 m to 180 m. The customised girders, which will have a life span of 100 years, were ordered as part of the realignment exercise.
The first girder that was launched by the CM was moved to its desired place with the help of a remote-operated crane. A Wi-Fi remote control was used to lift the 12,000 metric tonne girder and put it in its desired place.