Clearing the southern part of the proposed coastal road project with 16 specific conditions, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has recommended that a Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) be included as a key component of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s plans.
Officials said the ministry was also believed to have recommended to make the coastal road permanently toll-free. The decisions were taken after 20 months of deliberation.
The 33.5-km road will be built in two phases. The first phase from the Princess Street flyover to Worli end of the current sea link, and the second leg from Bandra end of the current sea link to Kandivli.
The project’s cost was recently revised from Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore in the recent BMC budget estimates presented for 2017-18.
On Friday, a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance from an expert panel of the environment ministry was recommended for the 10-km Princess Street Flyover to Worli end of the sea link.
With the main objective to promote public transport on the coastal road, the BRTS will have two lanes, one next to each carriageway of the proposed eight-lane stretch in southern part of the coastal road.
“At the T-junctions of the road, there will be interchanges of bus services travelling to different parts,” said an official in the state environment ministry.
A senior official from the department added that they were considering an express bus service connecting commuters. “The bus service, however, is not being planned for the current Bandra-Worli Sea Link,” a senior state government official clarified.
According to the government, VIP and commercial transport will be prohibited to use the special corridor.
Mumbai’s BRTS plan has been stuck since the concept was introduced in 2008.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) had planned BRTS between Bandra and Dahisar on the Western Express Highway and between Sion and Mulund checkpost on the Eastern Express Highway.
Among the 16 conditions, BMC will submit a written undertaking, to not use 90 hectares of the reclaimed land for residential or commercial purposes.
State officials said the conditions set were fair, especially concerning the toll and the specifications related to the reclaimed land.
“These are similar conditions applied to when the Bandra reclamation area was decided to be created to not let the land be exploited. Besides a few advertisement hoardings, there is nothing else commercial in the reclamation area of Bandra. Regarding the point on toll, it has been an observation that congestion on the current sea link is due to the toll. By making the coastal road toll-free, we will allow free flowing traffic on the western seafronts,” said a senior government official.
Two other conditions for the civic body are that 2 per cent of the project’s cost has to be contributed towards maintaining coastal and marine biodiversity and additional Rs 10 crore to be set aside for
development of green spaces.