Mumbai, the city of dreams, is a hub of diverse cultures and traditions, attracting people from all around the world. With its growing population, the city has witnessed an increment in traffic, causing congestion and affecting people’s daily lives.
Mumbai’s population has crossed almost 2 crores, and the city has been struggling to keep up with the transportation infrastructure’s demand.
However, the construction of the Mumbai Coastal Road has brought a glimmer of hope for the city. This 30 km-long under-construction expressway is a unique project that will start from Marine Drive and go up to Kandivali, crossing the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in between.
It will be the first expressway in India to have an under-sea road tunnel and cable-stayed bridge built. The reclaimed land is planned with green spaces, promenade, and bus rapid transit, which will add to the project’s uniqueness.
According to a report, a Mumbaikar spends almost 80-90 minutes in traffic every day, which amounts to 1.5 hours every day. With Mumbai’s growing population, the traffic congestion has caused a loss of almost ₹5,00,000Cr to the economy. Mumbai has three major North-South routes: the Western-Express Highway, the Eastern-Express Highway, and the Eastern-Freeway.
However, the Western-Express Highway finishes much early in Bandra, and people who want to go further south need to cross the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and navigate the arterial roads, which become much more congested during peak hours.
Eastern Express Highway and Eastern Freeway take commuters to Byculla and Mazgaon, but traveling cannot happen peacefully during peak hours. The local trains go even further south to Churchgate and CSMT station, but traveling through them is also not peaceful during peak hours.
Overloaded local train pictures are nothing new. In the last 20 years, the city has completed some projects, like the Senapati and Elphinstone Flyovers in Lower Parel and the JJ Flyover from Mazgaon to Fort. Apart from these two big projects, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link opened in 2010, and the Eastern Freeway opened in 2014.
But no rapid transit was made, which might have increased the option of people traveling by road, but the transit capacity remained the same, and the local trains became overcrowded. People who could afford it started using their vehicles, which led to an increase in traffic.
This phenomenon is called Induced Demand, which means more roads bring more users and more traffic, leading to the need for new roads. This cycle keeps going until it’s broken by rapid transit.
The present transport infrastructure is not fulfilling Mumbai’s needs, and the situation will worsen if preventive measures are not taken. But the good news is that there are a few projects under construction in Mumbai, which will save us from traffic.
There is a transformation that will come in transportation infrastructure that can be a new airport, a new expressway, or 11 new metro lines. Speaking of the Coastal Road Project, the earliest plan for this was made in 1962, where a 3.6 km road was supposed to be made between Haji-Ali Dargah and Nariman Point.
A Tunnel of 1 km long was proposed under the Malabar Hill. However, the whole project was getting difficult to be executed, and thus the plan was canceled.
Mumbai Coastal Road Project Plan
The plan for the Coastal Road Project was revived after 50 years when a 30 km-long Coastal Road Project was planned and studied in 2012. However, the Central government never approved the land acquisition due to various environmental concerns, including potential harm to marine life and destruction of mangrove forests.
In 2015, the Maharashtra government proposed a revised plan for the Coastal Road Project, which included a 35.6 km-long stretch of road connecting Marine Drive to Kandivali in the north. So, the project was split up into two parts. The first part covered the southern stretch of around 9.98 kilometers, starting from Princess Street flyover and going all the way to the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The second part covered the northern stretch of approximately 25.65 kilometers, starting from the Worli end of the Sea Link and extending up to Kandivali.
Balancing Development and Conservation: The Coastal Road Project Controversy.
The proposed project received widespread criticism from environmentalists and activists, who argued that the construction of the Coastal Road would cause irreversible damage to the coastal ecosystem, including the destruction of mangroves, the reduction of green spaces, and the alteration of tidal patterns.
Despite the opposition, the project received approval from the state and central governments, and construction began in 2018. The southern stretch of the Coastal Road was opened to the public in April 2021, while the construction of the northern stretch is ongoing.
Proponents of the Coastal Road argue that the project will ease traffic congestion and reduce commuting time for residents, as well as boost economic growth by improving connectivity between different parts of the city. However, critics contend that the project’s benefits do not outweigh the environmental damage it will cause.
The debate around the Coastal Road Project highlights the ongoing tension between development and conservation in urban areas. While infrastructure projects are necessary for a city’s growth and development, it is important to ensure that they are carried out in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, taking into account the long-term impact on the ecosystem and the community.
Impact on Environment and Marine Life
According to environmentalists, land reclamation can never be environmentally friendly. No matter how many precautions are taken, eco-sensitive areas get damaged. The Mumbai coastal road project involves land reclamation, which has raised concerns about its impact on the environment and marine life.
Local communities believe that along with coral reefs, marine food chains will be hampered too. Near Haji-Ali Dargah, 11 documented coral reefs were found, which will be shifted to the protected zone of Navy Nagar. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has promised to translocate around 18 coral colonies. However, environmentalists believe that this is not enough to mitigate the damage caused by the project.
Impact on Fishing Communities
The livelihood of the fishing communities, especially the Koli community, which were the original inhabitants of Mumbai, will be badly affected. The Koli community is a fishing community that has customary rights over the sea.
According to them, the project will affect the natural habitat, end their income, and leave them unemployed. The State government doesn’t have any concrete plans to relocate and give employment to them. This is why fishing communities are afraid of this project.
Impact on Traffic Congestion
The Mumbai coastal road project is expected to reduce travel time and improve connectivity. However, the project’s induced demand is a major concern. Induced demand means that if road travel is made more convenient, more commuters will travel through it, and traffic congestion will increase.
For the first few years, people will be comfortable, but eventually, traffic will become the same and even worse than before. This is a proven concept that was first studied in the 1960s, and for several years, numerous studies have proved it right. This is why an expressway made inside the city is not good. Expressways should be made for inter-city travel, not intra-city travel.
A simple solution for this is to make public transport better so that traffic will reduce automatically. Less than 5-7% of people travel by private vehicles in Mumbai. Most people use local trains, buses, and other modes of transport. That’s why public transit is more to be followed.
Impact on Urban Planning
For several years, in India and in different countries, cities have been planned according to cars, which has increased single-use zoning. The residential and commercial were segregated, roads were made, flyovers and parking lots were made, and highways were constructed inside the city like Mumbai Coastal Roads.
Public transit was never focused, walking and cycling infrastructures were not made as per the requirements. Little by little, people became car-dependent, and the traffic condition became worse than before.
The negative consequences of this are coming to the scene recently, Overall Health, Safety. Happiness has decreased in people, Pollution, Noise. Impatience has increased a lot in people. From this, it can be proved that the cities that are planned before the coming of cars, keeping people’s minds in the center, was a much more effective approach for creating livable cities.
The Mumbai Coastal Road is a major infrastructure project that aims to create a 35.6-kilometer-long, eight-lane coastal road in Mumbai, India. The project is being developed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and is expected to transform the way people travel in and around the city.Overall, the Mumbai Coastal Road is expected to have a significant impact on the city’s infrastructure, connectivity, and economic development. However, it is also important to ensure that the project is implemented in an environmentally sustainable manner to minimize any negative impact on the region’s ecology.