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Chinks appear in Santacruz-Chembur link

Satyanarayan Iyer | Updated on November 24, 2017

Santacruz Chembur Link Road

The link road is quick only during non-peak hours. There are many problems that need to be ironed out



Cars coming from the Eastern Express Highway zoom past at over 80 Km/hr as they climb the second tier of the country’s first double-decked flyover. This, in the heart of Mumbai, infamous for its snail-paced traffic.

The 6.45-km-long Santacruz Chembur Link Road was built with the intent of reducing travel time between the city’s two major arteries, the Eastern Express and Western Express highways.

The much-delayed project, commissioned in April this year, has been able to achieve its intent — during non-peak hours. Before the freeway opened, a ride from Santacruz to Chembur could take well over an hour. Negotiating the traffic snarl at Sion junction was especially difficult. The new link road has cut the travelling time to less than 30 minutes.

“Customers are happy now,” says Tabarak Ansari, an auto-driver, who has been ferrying passengers for over 15 years. An auto-ride from Santacruz to Chembur, which used to cost ₹120-130, now costs ₹70-80.

Wide footpaths line both sides of the six-lane flyover, which is adorned with bright signages, reflectors and small decorative plants on the divider.

Not a smooth ride

Though negotiating the 6.45-km stretch is fast and trouble-free, the Santacruz end of the flyover adds to the overall travel time, especially during rush hours. Pot-holed and narrow roads at this end slow down vehicles considerably. Long serpentine queues of barely moving vehicles are a common sight during rush hours as drivers valiantly try to negotiate potholes and puddles.

The peak hour experience can be unpleasant; it takes the same time to reach the airport from the eastern suburbs, whether one uses the link road or not.

The success of any infrastructure project in Mumbai depends on how well it survives the torrential monsoon, between June and September. By that yardstick, it is too early to judge the success of the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, but if initial accounts are any indication, the unfinished work here doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Ankle-deep water puddles welcome descending vehicles, and pedestrians have to endure having muddy rainwater splashed on them.

Incomplete resettlements

The link road was delayed by a decade because of alignment changes, lack of funds and rehabilitation efforts. Initially, the World Bank had pledged financial assistance but suspended the offer as the Maharashtra Government had not met its legal obligations under loan agreements signed with the Bank.

“This followed concerns that the resettlement and rehabilitation of some households and shops affected by the project had not been carried out in compliance with the Bank’s environmental, social and supervision policies,” the World Bank wrote in a report.

A total of 3,167 structures were affected by the project, a majority of which were residential. The affected families were each given a 225-sq ft apartment in Mankhurd, another suburb.

There are, in fact, a few small businesses still waiting to be resettled on the Kurla end of the four-way flyover since road widening is still underway.

“My shop is going. They are saying they will give us a shop in Mahulgaon, where the property value is much less. Also, my shop is the biggest in this line, but everyone is going to get a similar-sized shop,” says Suresh Solanki, a grocer. “We have requested for rehabilitation close by. But ultimately it is the government’s decision. What can we say?”

Published on June 23, 2014

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