THE MUMBAI Port Trust (MbPT) Monday unveiled plans for the Mumbai Eastern water transport system that will provide a network of passenger ships from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai and Alibaug. The government has indicated that Mumbai’s new system will reduce travel time considerably, especially between the city and Mandwa and New Mumbai, which will help de-congest road traffic.
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According to MbPT chairman Sanjay Bhatia, the water transport system will de-congest city traffic by transporting both passengers and vehicles across the harbour in quick time, thus bypassing the long road journey and bringing down pollution levels in Mumbai. Ro-Ro (roll on/roll off) ships which are designed to carry wheeled cargo will be employed to make this possible. The transport system will connect Baucha Dhakka or Ferry Wharf in Mumbai to Nerul in Navi Mumbai and Mandwa in Alibaug.
“The distance that was covered in two-and-a-half hours will be covered in 15-20 minutes. This will reduce pollution levels in the city considerably,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, calling the project a “new page in Mumbai’s history”. Fadnavis said the proposed water transport service along the eastern seafront was of utmost importance to Mumbai and was long overdue. “The ocean has untapped potential for the city. We took the decision to build a water transport system along Mumbai’s Eastern seafront in 2015 and the work has now begun. It will be a great service to the people of Mumbai,” said the CM.
“It takes more than two hours to go to Mandwa by road. The water transport service will only take 15 minutes. Going to Nerul in Navi Mumbai will take 17 minutes,” Bhatia said. According to the MbPT, the water transport system project is expected to be complete by March 2018. Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and CM Fadnavis were present at the foundation-laying ceremony for this and a couple of other projects along with the trustees of MbPT. An upgraded passenger terminal hall at Bhaucha Dhakka was inaugurated too.
Gadkari lauded the project, calling it the fulfillment of Mumbai’s dream of water transport, and said it would not only cut down travel time but also fuel consumption, thus bringing down pollution levels in the city. “Pollution is a huge problem. We are reading about the situation in Delhi everyday. Keeping that in mind, we must give serious thought to air and water pollution in Mumbai,” the union minister said, adding that pollution was “the biggest problem in India”.
On MbPT projects, Fadnavis said the new developments will boost employment, business and tourism in the city. He also spoke of a “360 degree approach” to transport and a need to integrate metro, monorail, suburban rail and water transport in Mumbai, such that passengers could travel with a single ticket for all. “The face of Mumbai is changing,” he said.
The Eastern seafront water transport system project is scheduled for completion by March 2018. “Both City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) have finalised their tenders and the MMB project on breakwater has already started,” said Bhatia. Apart from the water transport system, the MbPT also laid the foundation stones of two new projects, a fifth oil berth at Jawahar Dweep and India’s first bunkering facility at the same island. The oil berth, said to be India’s biggest oil handling jetty, will cost Rs 811 crores. Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum will bear half the cost of the project.