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Coastal Road For The Rich?

Nivedita Pal | Mumbai

Meanwhile, on the much-touted Coastal Road in Mumbai, the Bombay High Court continued a stay on the construction work of the proposed project till 3 June 2019 and asked the authorities to maintain a ‘status quo.’ Meanwhile, the state government has been hugely optimistic the proposed road will boost the creation of several central business districts (CBDs) in and around the corridor.
Protesters maintain the coastal road is primarily being constructed for private cars and will benefit only the rich and not the masses. “The majority in the city use public transport and the BMC should focus on the BEST bus service instead of pandering to the affluent,” says 23-year-old law student Ayushi Kapde at a protest meet held near Worli recently.

Mumbaikars have been fighting the Coastal Road Project saying it is completely unviable

“The BMC must work on ways to improve the existing infrastructure. The city’s most famed bus service - the BEST Bus Service is breaking down financially with the buses plying half empty all the time adding to the losses,” she says.

At this point of time, focusing on a coastal road project mired with so much controversy and risk to environment makes little sense.

The authorities maintain the road will open avenues for many investment and housing opportunities as more land will be unlocked for real estate developments. It (the coastal road) will link the Ahmedabad Highway via Mira Bhayender Road. The micro-markets such as Mira Road, Bhayandar, Bandra, Versova and others, are most likely to see good results.

But, when that happens, it will, but till then, the fears of a sell-out to private giants continue to loom large in the minds of the city’s denizens. “Forget coastal roads and all, there’s no place for people to even move about in this city,” spews home-maker Freny Baldiwala who finds it an ordeal to “even cross the road,” at a busy Kalbadevi intersection in South Mumbai. “Why would you want to increase the load on the infrastructure by building more and more? Also, with regard to the coastal road, why doesn’t the government wait for the Metro 3 project to be complete before embarking on a new one,” she adds.

Meanwhile, the BMC has also embarked upon a Rs 12,000-crore coastal road project that involves reclaiming land from the sea to build an eight-lane, 9.97-km highway from Marine Lines to the Worli end of Bandra-Worli Sea Link, to connect South Mumbai to the western suburbs. There are plans on taking over the existing two-km promenade and building a new 6.4 km-long, 20-metre-wide one on reclaimed land instead.

This report has been prepared for DraftCraft International’s flagship initiative The Public Space Project in conjunction with its pilot endeavours - The Right To Walk Project, The Gateway of India Project and The Elephanta Island Project to research, analyse and determine the rights of the common man, the pedestrian, the tourist and the rights of the masses availing public transportation in contrast to those privileged few owning private vehicles. The initiative examines laws and policies regarding transport, access to public spaces and privacy guaranteed to all by the State in context of the Right To Equality, Freedoms and the Right to Life.