FPJ Anniversary 2022: Passenger Water Transport best alternate solution to Mumbai traffic

There is a need to develop and adopt a new environmentally sustainable and responsive transportation system.

Rajeev JalotaUpdated: Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 08:18 AM IST
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FPJ Anniversary 2022: Linking Mumbai via water |

Mumbai being a commercial magnet, businesses and workforce is mainly concentrated in the Mumbai Metropolitan region. A study by The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy – India (ITDP) reports that 51% of Mumbaikars travel by foot or cycle, 30% travel through public transport and 19% travel by private vehicles and taxis. It is also observed that the
number of vehicles grew threefold in the span of 15 years from 0.8 million
in 2001 to 2.27 million in 2016; of which 0.86 million are just cars. The report also finds that while just 19% of the people travel by private vehicles and taxis, they consume 82% of road space and 55% of traffic crawls at less than 20 kmph in peak hours.

The heavy congestion on these roads leads to indefinite delay in travel time. Also, there is no land available for expansion. There is a need to develop and adopt a new environmentally sustainable and responsive transportation system. In selecting this system, consideration should be given to the mode that does not contribute to unnecessary increase in fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and congestion. With the natural environment facilitating, the development of water-based transport would be an alternative in Mumbai to ease commuting and save on time and fuel consumption. “Inland Water Transport” is an ideal solution.

The Ministry of Ports shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) has prepared the Maritime India Vision — 2030 plan, which envisages the development of passenger movement in Inland Waterways. Hence, Mumbai Port Authority, in association with Maharashtra Maritime Board, initiated a plan to develop Mumbai’s Eastern Waterfront as a hub for passenger water transport with outreach to Thane-Vashi Creek, Ulwe-Belapur creek and Dharamtar creek.

Passenger services were already operating from Ferry Wharf to Mora and Rewas and also from Gateway of India to Mandwa and Elephanta Island.
Due to increase in demand, it was decided to operate ROPAX service to Mandwa.

Mumbai to Mandwa ROPAX is operating successfully even during the monsoon season. This has given confidence to the operator as well as commuters. ROPAX berths are ready at Nerul and Karanja. MMB has undertaken construction of ROPAX berths at Mora (the northern part of Uran), Rewas and even at Kashid.

Thane-Vashi creek is heavily silted, due to which its capital dredging cost is quite high. Considering this MMB had issued a “Letter of Intent” to operate hovercraft. As informed by the Operator to MMB, due to the current situation import of hovercrafts from Russia is delayed.

Meanwhile, Water Taxi service on demand has started from Belapur to Elephanta. It is likely to start between Belapur and JN Port and South Mumbai soon as well.

At present Gateway is heavily congested. Therefore, a new passenger
terminal will be developed jointly with MMB, close to Radio Club area. This will facilitate smooth embarkation and disembarkation of passengers. This passenger terminal, like all other terminals being developed by MMB, are part funded by Sagarmala project of MoPSW.

In future, once the New Airport at Panvel nears completion, a jetty will be constructed on the Belapur-Ulwe creek. This will facilitate transfer of passengers from Domestic Cruise Terminal of Mumbai Port.

In a nutshell we would like to create a network of water routes to facilitate passenger movement in Mumbai.

In order to support the Government’s commitment of reduction in Carbon Emission, we are evaluating various options with Research Groups and Shipyards to evaluate transition from fossil fuel to green fuel such as LNG, solar power etc.

(Rajeev Jalota, IAS, Mumbai Port Authority Chairman)

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