Another high tax payer infrastructure development project, but at what REAL cost? In the age of development vs. environment , we need to keep to constantly question, is this needed? Are we heading to real inclusive development, why are we choosing developmental models which favour corporate greed than peoples’ need?
Background on Coastal Road
On July 16th, 2019, the Mumbai High court quashed the Coastal Regulation Zone for the southern part of the Coastal Road Project citing “lack of proper scientific study”. The judgment also cited, “It is obvious that a serious lacuna in the decision-making process has occurred. The lacuna is that neither MCZMA nor EIA nor MoEF took note of the fact that except for the environmental impact assessment study conducted by the consultants, all other reports themselves informed the recipient of the reports that they were not based on complete and exhaustive analysis of the data and material required to opine on the adverse environmental impact.” The HC instructed that the project cannot proceed without obtaining appropriate clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification.
The project is primarily divided into two sets:
(It is often done for ease of environmental and other clearances, imagine no coastal road work
happening even on Phase 1 solely because Phase 2 will destroy so many mangroves!)
The Construction of Phase 1 or the South Extension by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai
from Princess Street Flyover to Bandra-Worli Sea Link (9.9km) started earlier this year.
Phase 2 of the Project or the North Extension is going to be built by Maharashtra State Road
Development Corporation from Bandra to Kandivali.
Our first reaction to the Coastal Road was “amazing, Mumbai’s traffic is going to reduce- HELL YES”.
However, after reading more into the matter we got familiar with the ecological and environmental
disaster it would create, while serving just 0.4% of Mumbai’s Population.
So, is it worth it?
MYTH 1: It will decongest the city
FACT1: By building the CR, traffic will NOT reduce in the city
● The CR was proposed in accordance with the Transportation Survey conducted by civic authorities in 2006 that is 13 years ago. Neither the details of the study were disclosed nor has any new study been done to still justify the CR.
● The government is pumping over 1 lakh Cr to build over 172 km of Metro across the city,
thereby decongesting the city by carrying over 90 lakh passengers. However, this was never taken into consideration in the transportation survey or when the CR was proposed.
● The entry and exit points of the CR include Warden Road and August Kranti Road, which are two already narrow lanes with severe traffic. The study claims that these roads will be widened from 9m to 27m to allow disbursal of CR traffic. How will this happen? By demolishing buildings?
It’s also claimed that the bottleneck traffic jams at exit/entry points will be inevitable, but some insights into urban planning say otherwise…
● Famous professors Turner and Duranton of Upenn stated, “Because if there’s anything that traffic engineers have discovered in the last few decades it’s that you can’t build your way out of congestion. It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic.”
● The fundamental law of road congestion: New roads will create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of
traffic staying the same
MYTH 2: There will be space for green covers!
FACT: It is all just a real estate scam
MYTH 3: We need a 14,900 Cr Coastal Road
FACT 3: Let’s just present the facts and you can decide for yourself
● With 14,900 cr being spent on the CR, it is the most expensive infrastructure project being
undertaken in this country. Additionally, it is just for 9.9km.
● The CR expects to carry 1,00,000 commuters daily, which is just 0.4% of Mumbai’s population.
● When the sea link was built, they estimated 1,25,000 cars to be commuting on it, however, as
of the present only 35,000 cars are commuting daily on it. With this reality, we can only expect
fewer commuters than the expected to use the CR.
● With 10.5 million people using public transport daily, 82% of Mumbai’s workforce using the
suburban railway and MMR being the region with the highest share captured by public
transportation in the world (about 84 %), can we really justify the CR cost?
● According to the famous urban planner, Rahul Mehrotra, CR reflects the governments lack of
urban planning and “is an example of blatant disregard by the elite – or more accurately those
in power – for what the city really needs.”
MYTH 4: Impact on Tidal waves unlikely, and flooding will be in control
FACT 4: Impact on Tidal waves is under threat and flooding will increase
● The reclamation will push Mumbai’s coastal boundaries by another 100m into the sea, possibly
changing tidal patterns, erosion of beaches and block the city’s drainage system along the west
● Dadar beach has eroded because of the small-scale reclamation done during Bandra Worli Sea
Link. Without knowing the entire environmental impact, it’s unfair for the government to go
ahead with the project.
● Like concretization of the Mithi River plain has led to flooding, when they reclaim the shore a
9m wall is going to be built to prevent the monsoon waves from damaging the coastal road. So
they are effectively creating a dam. What will happen when there are heavy rains coupled with
high tide? SEVERE FLOODING. We have already seen Breach Candy flooding in low tide and
Mithi River concretization is a live example of how bad the idea is.
MYTH 5: We can just pay off the Fisherman and they will be okay
FACT 5: Livelihood of Coastal Fishermen will be ruined
● As per “Social Ecology of the Shallow Seas: A report on the Impacts of the Coastal Reclamation
on Artisan Fishing in the Worli Fishing Zone” prepared by Collective for Spatial Alternatives, the
CR will ‘irreversibly damage the coastal system’.
● According to the same report as stated by The Hindu, “The fishing waters of Worli Koliwada is
where large numbers of fish come to the shallow seas for shelter in the rocks and crevices and
to breed or lay eggs. The reclamation will destroy the fishing breeding ground, substantially
affecting the productivity of the entire coastal belt. It will affect the livelihood of the fishing
community as they rely on intertidal species at the rocky shores for fishing. Specifically, it will
diminish the practice of artisanal fishing.”
In a quartz article, Nakhwa-a Koli questioned, “How can an entire family and the coming generations survive ona one-time compensation when their only means of earnings is being permanently taken away?”
MYTH 6: Ecosystem Damage will be minimum as what can lie underneath the dirty waters of the
FACT 6: 350+ Species of fish and 11 species of Corals found along Mumbai’s western coast
● 11 species of Corals were found along the coast of Mumbai from Napeansea Road to Worli,
with majority of them residing near Haji Ali, which is the main construction site of the CR. Corals
are vital for the environment for they protect the coastline from erosion by absorbing wave energies and provide habitat and food for various marine species.
● 350+ species were found along Mumbai’s coast, some of which along with the Corals are
protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under schedule 1. This is the same schedule
that grants the status to Tigers and Leopards with maximum level of protection.
● As per EY’s Environment Impact Assessment Report, the fine sediments released during
construction will cause turbidity that will affect the plant’s growths by reducing its capacity to
● As per the same EY report, the CR will lead to destruction of breeding grounds of various
marine organisms and the noise can potentially affect intertidal habitats.
● PH levels in the sea will increase leading to disturbance in the ecosystem.
● FYI the ocean produces 50% of the Earth’s oxygen.
● Additionally, mangroves and trees will be cut in development of phase 2, which are extremely
critical for the environment.
MYTH 7: Landscape of Mumbai will change for the better
FACT 7: Lack of Urban Planning vision
● Former chair of the department of urban planning and design at Harvard University’s Graduate
School of Design-Rahul Mehrotra, earlier told Scroll, “With the coastal road, you are strengthening the north-south axis of Mumbai. It encourages people to live further north and
you are accentuating the land values and its concentration in the southern part of the city,
rather than by opening up more land on the east where it is in greater supply on the mainland.”
● Rahul Mehrotra stated again in the Scroll article, “It’s akin to a patient with heart disease or clogged arteries being asked to change their lifestyle and become a new person over a year or two – or to do multiple bypasses as a quick fix. The coastal road is like a bypass to the problem of traffic and mobility in the city at a massive cost. It’s going to ruin our coast, it’s going to
detrimentally damage fantastic residential zones along the coast and it is not going to achieve
what we need in the long run”
WHAT OTHER ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS ARE THERE?
Plenty of solutions are there to decongest the city, however, they require a little more thought and effort. Since the majority of Mumbai’s population relies on public transport, spend the money on improving the BEST bus conditions. If 90 lakh people are estimated to use the metro, then increase the metro connectivity by investing in building more stations and lines. The local trains are known as Mumbai’s lifeline, therefore, invest in upgrading the local trains and its frequency and invest in making the stations effective and beautiful by building more clean toilets and amenities on it. The only way to decongest any city is to encourage more of its citizens to use public transport.
On July 16 th the Bombay High Court passed the order to stop any ongoing work as the appropriate
environment clearances were not taken
The matter is in the Supreme Court right now, and our case could be heard anytime soon.
In light of this, we request anyone who feels strongly for this cause to sign up: