Virar-Vasai-Panvel two-way corridor cleared

The NITI Aayog has cleared the biggest railway project in Mumbai’s suburban network – the Virar-Vasai-Panvel line. The Rs.9,356-crore railway project will be the single-largest investment in a standalone project in Mumbai.
At 70.14 km, the two-line corridor will be longer than the Churchgate-Virar, CST-Panvel and CST-Kalyan routes. The size of this project can be gauged from the fact that, in sheer size, it is 85% of the recently-cleared Rs.10,947-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project phase 3 – the latter being an umbrella plan comprising several projects across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
It will be a 50:50 partnership project between the state government and the Railways, and the chances of local civic bodies and private firms being brought in as stakeholders are also possible, said officials.
The NITI Aayog appraisal note now sets the project up for a final assessment by the Railway Board and the final approval by the Prime Minister-chaired Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA), said officials.
Officials said that the line had the potential to add a completely new urban agglomeration between Virar and Panvel. This agglomeration, officials said, had the capability to rival the growth of Navi Mumbai as a new city, built through the 1980s and early 1990s.
“It has the potential to create a new urban set-up in the Bhiwandi, Kharbao, Kalamboli, Diva and Panvel areas. If work begins now, it could be a reality over the next decade,” said a senior railway official. These are areas which already have a robust presence of warehouses and godowns but the lack of a full-fledged suburban corridor has stifled the growth of much-needed residential colonies.
“The hinterland of big stations on Western Railway and Central Railway are saturated when it comes to new urban complexes,” said an official.
Incidentally, the Railways, in its earlier budgets, has announced warehousing hubs in Bhiwandi, Kharbao and train maintenance and stabling facilities in Kalamboli. “All these projects will boost trading and manufacturing business in the area and the demand for housing to cater to these industries will also come up. A suburban corridor is essential to spur this growth,” said the official.

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