The state government's ambitious Coastal Road Project has already drawn immense criticism from environment experts and green activists. Following the intense flooding caused in the month of August, their concerns have intensified.
Speaking at an online webinar on Saturday, organised by Save Our Coast, Mumbai, environment experts, transport experts and social workers spoke of the impact the project will have on common Mumbaikars, fisherfolks, and aqua life.
Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena attributed the project to be a land making project, which would cause huge loss to marine ecology. "By extending the road size from 20 hectares to 100 hectares, the government is filling the sea to a large extent. This will not only cause harm to the aqua life, but may also lead to intense flooding in the long run as well," Bhathena stated.
Bhathena also mentioned that the idea of this project was conceived decades ago and such a development project doesn't qualify to the city's present urban structure. "The state has constructed the Vashi Flyover and Sea Link. These were built over the sea. Something similar could be chalked out?" he added.
Urban researcher Hussain Indorewala suggested that instead of developing the Coastal Road Project, the state government should have thought of strengthening the road transport network in the city. "The government is ready to spend nearly Rs 14,000 crore for the project. However, they don't have money to strengthen the BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) network," Indorewala stated.
He mentioned that the road would benefit only a meagre proportion of car users in the city. "The project will compel more people to invest in cars, which will increase the car density to a large extent. Traffic congestion will follow on the coastal road as well," Indorewala explained.
Shweta Wagh, associate professor, urban researcher and ethnographer asserted that this project would result in loss of the tradition of the fisher folks of the Koli community. "BMC had claimed that there was no fishing areas. The high court intervened and we presented our findings, which was also supported by fishing board. This clearly states the loss of ecology that BMC is trying to hide," stated Wagh.
"The approach towards the project is unscientific and lacks proper planning. There are reports which states that the reduction in permeable areas would result in downstream flooding," she added.