Coastal roads instead of Sea links?

Marine Drive would go from having eight lanes to 12 – six in each direction – and would connect to Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade. The latest relaxations of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms may not only help cut the cost of building roads along the city’s west coast, they may also lead to the coast’s geography changing dramatically. After indicating that the state is leaning towards building coastal roads rather than sea-links, officials said that they are studying the possibility of building the coastal road up to Cuffe Parade and not just Nariman Point. From Priyadarshini Park (PDP) the plans are to build a tunnel to the H2O water park, which is at the southern end of Girgaum Chowpatty. The 700-m tunnel would cost Rs 700 crore. From there, a 6-km coastal road would extend along Marine Drive to NCPA at Nariman Point and then turn towards Badhwar Park in Backbay Reclamation. This road would cost Rs 600 crore. Four lanes would be added to the existing eight of Marine Drive. The four lanes would extend into the sea and could be built on the area on which the promenade and tetrapods are presently. Where needed, stilts could accommodate the road, but reclaiming land may be impossible. The new CRZ rules, which came into existence in January 2011, permit the construction of coastal roads on stilts. Interestingly, an official said that while Marine Drive may be extended over the promenade, the promenade could be saved and shifted towards the sea. It is not known how this would be accomplished. The government recently spent Rs 27 crore to revamp the promenade from Nariman Point to Chowpatty. Phase II of this makeover never took off. Officials pointed out that very little land would have to be acquired, for which compensation can be given as per norms. Officials have already said that they may scrap the Worli-Haji Ali Sea-Link, the contract for which is with Reliance Infrastructure. In its place a 5-km coastal road is being planned from the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea-link to PDP. While the Worli-Haji Ali Sea-Link would have cost Rs 4,500 crore, the longer coastal road will cost Rs 500 crore. The 11.7-km coastal road from Worli to Cuffe Parade, including the tunnel from PDP to Chowpatty, would cost Rs 1,800 to 2,000 crore. A sea-link and tunnel between these locations would cost Rs 12,000 crore. It cost Rs 1,700 crore to build the 5.6-km sea-link between Bandra and Worli. North of Bandra, the state has already planned a coastal road to Versova. The over-10-km project would require around Rs 1,000 crore. Earlier, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had planned a costly tunnel from Chowpatty to Badhwar Park at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore. A senior official said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has given the go-ahead to explore a coastal road within the CRZ rules and to consider the demands of locals, fisher folk and traffic.

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