Mumbai's coastal road Phase I gets green clearance

The coastal road cleared its last major hurdle, after the Union environment ministry's expert committee approved work on the first phase of the total 29.22-km road connecting Marine Drive to Kandivli. Work on the Marine Drive-Bandra stretch is likely to begin in October and be completed in four years.

The expert appraisal committee of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change gave conditional approval to the first phase of the coastal road. The minutes will be sent to the ministry which will issue the notification. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said work on the coastal road will start from mid-October.

In the first phase, the BMC will build a 10 km toll-free road between Marine Drive and the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Plans for the second phase are still being discussed.

The eight-lane road will have four interchanges, all with double-decker ramps. The interchanges will encourage motorists travelling shorter distances to use the coastal road, which will, in turn, help decongest the city's internal roads. Sources said when complete, the entire coastal road can be covered in around half an hour, assuming a speed of 80 km per hour.

The coastal road project required around two dozen approvals, but the BMC struggled to get environmental clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and the MoEF . Both had reservations over destruction of mangroves to construct the road but finally agreed on certain conditions, which include depositing 2% of the project's total cost to conserve coastal and marine biodiversity.

The BMC is yet to get two `technical permissions', one from the traffic police to transport materials and another from the state government which is the default owner of any reclaimed land. The BMC is expediting tenders for the first phase, work for which has been divided into three parts.

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