Mumbai moves: First stretches of Metro, Monorail start this year
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The first stretches of Metro and monorail will open this year, the trans-harbour link and a water transport network in the years to follow. But these transport projects have taken years in a city with unique problems.
Mumbai is set to complete a number of transport infrastructure projects this year. The first Metro corridor will come up on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route in a city whose suburban railway system has been its lifeline for ages. So will the first phase of the country's first monorail line, on the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle route. The city will also get the wide, east-west Santacruz Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and the north-south Eastern Freeway, which will include Asia's first set of urban road tunnels. These projects are together worth over Rs 6,600 crore.
And over the next five to seven years, projects worth Rs 69,500 crore should improve the transport network even further if planning agencies can move from blueprint to reality.
Among these are the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), touted as the country's longest sea link; a passenger water transport system for a comfortable, daily commute; and underground sections of the Metro for high-speed connectivity to the Mumbai airport and to SEEPZ, an industrial and export promotion zone.
Some projects, however, have failed to see the light of day. These include the Western Freeway and the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd elevated Metro corridor. In both cases, the government and the developers have failed to agree on certain issues.
The problems along the way of the projects nearing completion included some very peculiar to the city. Finding and acquiring land are a bigger hurdle than they are elsewhere. Land is a scarce resource with three million residents sharing the space of an unplanned city at a density of 20,000 people per square metre. Large portions of public land along the alignment of these projects had been encroached by slums, many of these protected under government policies.