In the column “Mumbai state of mind” (Worm’s Eye View, November 17), the writer laments his two-hour travel time from the city to Vashi for a lecture once every week. Imagine the plight of millions of commuters, who live in several new habitations from Panvel to Vashi — spending more than two hours each way daily to reach their offices in the city, using the rickety and strained Harbour Line via Kurla. Earlier, a proposal was made to build a road-cum-rail bridge connecting Nhava Sheva with Sewri. That would have vastly reduced their travel time. But, two years back, the state government arbitrarily announced that it was dropping the rail portion of the plan, without giving any reasons. The newspapers also did not comment — many did not even notice. Later, even the road bridge did not take off.
In the context of deepening the Nhava Sheva port and the proposal to build a new greenfield international airport in Navi Mumbai, McKenzie in its 2003 report envisioned a ring-rail network from Bandra-Sewri-Nhava Sheva – Belapur-Panvel-Vashi-Kurla-Bandra. If anything, this ring-rail concept had assumed greater importance and relevance with the Indian Railways strengthening the Vasai-Diva-Panvel railway line, and extending the suburban services from Virar to Dahanu, and the state government proposal to build transport-oriented new habitations up to Pen on the hinterland. Now, there is a move to set up the National Investment Board to expedite projects, but there is little light on how to ensure a wider reach, mass coverage and utility of individual projects. No wonder a 2003 European study of 300 mega-projects in 30 countries refers to the public’s fear, stating “political inequality in access to decision-making processes will lead to an unequal distribution of risks, burdens and benefits from projects”.
S Subramanyan Navi Mumbai
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