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Alternatives in race to ease Mumbai's transport woes - 2012-04-30

Last week, around 40 lakh Mumbaikars literally had a hell of a time as the city's lifeline, the suburban Central and Harbour Railway lines were down for three days due to signalling issues. More suffering was in store for them as they had to hit the roads, which already had bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The ongoing transportation problems of the Mumbai region will not be solved in 2012. However, from next year on , it is expected to be mitigated as alternative transport projects are coming up.

MMRDA intends to develop a Metro Rail network of 146 km in Mumbai city. The project is being implemented in three stages. In the first phase, Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar, Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd and Colaba-BKC-Airport transport corridors are being developed.

The work on the Rs 2,356 crore Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor is going on in full swing. MMRDA expects work on the corridor to be completed by the year-end and is looking forward to conduct tests early next year.

Accepted world over as low cost transportation system, which can be implemented in a short time, the monorail in Mumbai will act as a substitute to the high capacity mass transit systems like suburban and metro services and will add to the public transportation network in the city.

The suburban local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai region, but in order to provide rail connectivity to inaccessible areas, the MMRDA has undertaken the monorail project. India's first monorail will run from Chembur to Wadala and from Wadala to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in central Mumbai by early 2013.

Today, during peak hours, it can take up to two hours to cover this 20-km distance. However, the travel time for the same distance would be cut down to a mere 40 minutes once the monorail is commissioned. The frequency of the monorail would be every five minutes and about 600 passengers will commute in the four monorail compartments.

The Sahar Elevated Road is yet another critical road link, which is being developed by MMRDA. This Rs 288-crore, two –km-long elevated road will provide a dedicated link between Western Express Highway and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. It provides six lanes for the traffic and is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2012.The project is partiality funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

The Mumbai region has a long coastline, dotted with small jetties and small ports. Since ancient times it has been used for trade and commerce.

However, a sustainable passenger water transport, which could offer an alternative transport system to the Railways was never developed.

In the early 1990s, attempts were made to connect Navi Mumbai with Colaba in South Mumbai with a hovercraft. However, the venture soon ran out of steam due to financial constraints. In 2010, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had called for the bids for the Rs 1,200-crore project for connecting the western suburbs with South Mumbai but that project ran into legal and financial difficulties.

Now, MSRDC has decided to once again call for the bids but this time it has a Rs 750-crore cash funding from Maharashtra Government, which will cover all the viability gaps in the project. It has invited bids for operating a passenger and vehicle water transport project on the eastern and western coast.

On the east coast, it will connect South Mumbai with Nerul and Mandwa and on the west coast with Marve. Small ships, catamarans and other vessels will carry the passengers and their cars to south Mumbai.

Source : Hindu Business Line