After 5 months and 700 crore loss, work on Coastal Road Project to resume

After 5 months and 700 crore loss, work on Coastal Road Project to resume
Since work on the project was stalled on July 16, the BMC has been paying contractors between Rs 5-7 crore per day for their manpower and machinery (Picture Courtesy: Pratik Babhulkar/Sarita Fernandes)

A day after the Supreme Court stayed the Bombay High Court judgement disallowing work on the coastal road project, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to resume work with immediate effect.

The coastal road project entails the construction of a road along the western coastline of Mumbai through a combination of a road on reclaimed land, bridges, and tunnels. The 29.2 km route will stretch all the way from Marine Drive to Borivali.

Around 186 hectares of land will be reclaimed for the project, of which nearly 50 percent will be developed as green space.

Relief from Supreme Court

In July 2019, the Bombay High Court had stayed work on the coastal road project citing a lacuna in the decision-making process, lack of proper scientific study and need for environmental clearance under an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and other stakeholders then challenged the move in the Supreme Court, which stayed the HC order on Tuesday.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant said that prima facie they do not agree with the high court order, and asked the state government to go ahead with the process of reclaiming land to build the road.

The top court, however, asked the authorities concerned to not carry out any infrastructure development along the road until further orders from the court.

The top court has posted the matter for final hearing in April 2020.

Project delay may cost BMC upwards of Rs 700 crore

Since work on the project was stalled on July 16, the civic body has been reportedly paying contractors between Rs 5 to 7 crore per day for their manpower and machinery.

The five-month delay could therefore cost the BMC anywhere between Rs 700 to 1,000 crore and take the total project cost up by 5 to 7 percent from the current Rs 14,000 crore.

“The cost escalation is due to equipment and mobilisation of man and machinery lying idle during the stay period,” BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi was quoted as saying.

Although the preliminary loss estimate is pegged at upwards of Rs 700 crore, the exact amount is yet to be calculated as multiple contractors – levying different rates – have been engaged for the project.

Work to resume immediately

The civic body initially started work on the project in October 2018. Before it was stalled, the BMC had completed nearly 17 percent construction of the project.

Now, in wake of the apex court’s order, it is planning to resume work at five sites – Priyadarshini Park, Marine Drive, Amarsons Garden, Haji Ali and Worli sea face – on an immediate basis.

Work on the coastal road project will commence immediately, Pardeshi said.

The first phase of the project is being executed in three parts. The BMC is handling the first part, which includes the construction from Princess Street flyover at the end of Marine Drive till Priyadarshini Park at Napean Sea Road.

Larson & Toubro Ltd. has been awarded the contract for the next leg (Priyadarshini Park to Baroda Palace), and the last part (Baroda Palace to Bandra-Worli sea link) will be built by JV of Hindustan Construction Company and Hyundai Development Corporation.

Opposition from activists & NGOs

Several NGOs and activists have opposed the project on the grounds that it commissioned without proper planning or study, the lack of requisite environmental & wildlife clearances and the social & environmental impact it will have on the city.

According to the petitioners opposing the project, if the construction material is poured in order to reclaim land, then it will adversely affect the corals.

“The corals are beyond the allotment of the coastal land… this is a reclamation project and it cuts through the bay. The destruction is irreversible after pouring concrete,” the petitioners have claimed.

Activist Stalin Dayanand of Mumbai-based NGO Vanashakti has also slammed the civic body for its ‘loss’ claim, stating that it went ahead with the project despite being notified in advance about the opposition from citizens.

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