Not many Mumbaikars, among the thousands who take what is commonly known as the Western Express Highway every day, are aware that the road is actually called the Ali Yavar Jung Road. Named after the former governor of Maharashtra, Nawab Ali Yavar Jung, the highway stretches from Bandra to Dahisar. It links the western suburbs and then extends to the Mumbai-Delhi National Highway 8.
Jung was the governor of the state from 1971 until he died in 1976. He had previously been India’s ambassador to Argentina, Egypt, Yugoslavia, Greece, France and the United States. He was the Indian delegate to the U N General Assembly in 1946 and from 1950 to 1955, and was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1959.
“Jung’s wife Begum Zehra Ali Yavar Jung, a social worker, started the National Society for Clean Cities in Bandra East. The society was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi on 11th December 1976 in the morning. It so happened that the same evening Governor Ali Yavar Jung passed away in Raj Bhavan in presence of Indira Gandhi. According to old timers of Raj Bhavan, the Western Express Highway was named after Jung in recognition of his contribution to the beautification of the road. Jung was of the view that the entrance to the city from the airport should look impressive. He had therefore encouraged tree plantation on the entire Express Highway,” said PRO to the governor, Umesh Kashikar
The Society runs a children’s complex looking after the all-round development of underprivileged children and women living in Mumbai slums. In April, after the Supreme Court banned the sale of liquor on highways, the Western Express Highway was denotified and was handed over to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) from the Public Works Department (PWD) for a period of five years. The 25.33-km stretch was then renamed the Western Urban Road and the Eastern Express Highway was renamed the Eastern Urban Road.
While the road currently sees some of the worst traffic snarls in the city, that is expected to ease after 2019, when the Andheri East-Dahisar East Metro 7 Corridor is likely to be opened to public.