Bandra Worli Sea Link snapshotz
Mumbai's new sealink should open in about a week, four lanes would be inaugurated out of the eight.The state government would never like to recall the cost and time overruns behind the Bandra-Worli Sealink project. One of the most delayed and desperately awaited infrastructure projects of the massive Mumbai makeover programme, the sealink opens to traffic this week. The inauguration ceremony promises to be as monumental as the project itself. It will be marked with laser shows beginning June 24. The Congress-NCP government has planned a grand show in the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to open the bridge. Having successfully taken the 15-year old plan to its logical conclusion, the ruling parties are naturally banking upon the work, which can be showcased ahead of the assembly elections. A bird’s eye view of the history of this project shows how much the Congress would benefit by getting the credit for this work. Considering certain facts of the project should also convey the gravity of delay in building this 5.6 km-long bridge that connects Mumbai’s two islands in the Arabian Sea. Mumbai was Bombay when the project was conceived in the mid-90s. Narasimha Rao was in the last year of his tenure as the prime minister. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance was raring to have a go at dethroning Sharad Pawar’s Congress government in Maharashtra. And it was all in the family for Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray, and Raj Thackeray. When the Sena-BJP did beat Pawar’s Congress government in 1995, it promised to build a new Maharashtra and thought of connecting Bandra with Worli over the sea. By 2000, when the project concept note was ready for action, the Sena-BJP government was gone and Congress, along with Mr Pawar’s NCP was back. It took a year for the new government to revive the project. In 2001, the project cost was pegged at Rs 420 crore. The cost, however, almost doubled by 2004 when the actual work began. Mr Manmohan Singh, who was a finance minister when the sealink was conceived, unveiled a Rs 40,000-crore Mumbai makeover programme after he became PM in 2004. Five years later, Bandra-Worli Sealink becomes the first project of this programme to see completion, much beyond its deadline. But, when Congress president Sonia Gandhi inaugurates Bandra-Worli Sea Link this week, the total cost of the project stands at Rs 1,640 crore. Yet this will not tell the full story. In between the change of governments and in Mumbai’s political profile, the project has also been witness to controversies between the government and the contractor Hindustan Construction Company over delayed payments, cost escalations, protests by environmentalists and the Koli community members, and changes in alignments. At 5.6 km, the Bandra-Worli Sealink is going to be one of the longest in the world. The MSRDC has not so far come out with the toll structure but it is tentatively fixed at Rs 50 for a single journey (for cars and SUVs), Rs 75 for a day-pass both ways, Rs 125 for multiple journeys in a day, and Rs 2,500 for the monthly pass. The sealink is expected to take away 80% of 1.4 lakh cars which pass through the Mahim Causeway per day and reduce the journey time from 60 minutes to mere 8 minutes.
Labels: Bandra Worli Sealink MSRDC HCC