BMC reluctant to do soil tests for MSRDC

Deeming the possibility of creating an underpass from Haji Ali to Jaslok Hospital on Peddar Road unfeasible, the BMC is reluctant to conduct soil investigation for the MSRDC. Instead, the civic body is asking the state road development authority to conduct the investigation on its own for the 4.33-km stretch from Tambe Chowk at Girgaum Chowpatty to Haji Ali.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta said, "It is not that we are unwilling to do it, but we are asking MSRDC to conduct the soil investigation for the full stretch of the Peddar Road flyover, including the proposed underpass, since it is their project."

While MSRDC is undertaking soil investigation from Jaslok Hospital to Tambe Chowk, earlier this year, it asked the BMC to do the same on the small stretch to see if an underpass can be constructed. Senior officials in BMC's roads, bridges and traffic department said the idea for an underpass from Haji Ali to Jaslok Hospital was discussed in an empowered committee meeting based on the suggestion of Mumbai Environmental Social Network (MESN), a traffic management NGO. Senior traffic police officers have also lent support to it.

"MESN and residents had suggested an underpass for the most crowded stretch on Peddar Road. Construction of the flyover is going to cause a lot of traffic problems and hence alternatives were looked at. This pass was to connect to a flyover from Jaslok Hospital to Tambe Chowk," said a senior civic official on condition of anonymity. He added, "Since MSRDC is anyway carrying out the soil investigation for the rest of the flyover, they will be better aware of the technical dimensions of the project, such as distance between the columns. We have not even got permissions from the traffic department for the investigation, so we have not appointed consultants," he said.

The official said an underpass would create traffic chaos. "It can be built either by open cut method or by tunnel boring. In an open cut method, the traffic will be affected because the whole road will have to be dug up." He added that the tunnel boring method for building the pass is unfeasible for such a small stretch. "Where is the outlet for the mud once we bore into the ground? For creating the pass, we will have to build a gradual slope for the vehicles, which means the traffic further ahead on both ends of the pass will be affected," he said.

"The underpass can still be created but the project will be very expensive. Also, we have to take into account the underground utilities."

In the past three months, the road has experienced three cave-ins. These have been caused due to collapses in the century-old stormwater drains. Deputy Municipal Commissioner and chief engineer of the stormwater drains department L S Vhatkar said the civic body has submitted its remarks to MSRDC. "The old drains will have to be replaced if a long-term solution is to be arrived at. If the flyover comes up, new drains will run along the side of the road. The central drain will be removed to accommodate the pillars."

The Rs 400-crore Peddar Road flyover project has been stuck for more than a decade owing to stiff resistance from those residing along the alignment, including singers Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar, and delay in environmental clearances

Only recently did the traffic police grant permission for conducting soil investigation on certain stretches of the road to create the flyover's construction strategy

In the past three months, there have been three cave-ins on the road when the century-old stormwater drains collapsed

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