Administrative delays and pending environmental clearance have led to the construction cost of the 5.3-km-long Sea Link connecting Bhayander and Naigaon over the Vasai creek to increase by more than 200 per cent. The estimated cost from Rs 300 crore in 2013 has increased to around Rs 1,000 crore in 2017.
The project is planned to run parallel to the Western Railway Bridge between Bhayander and Naigaon. However, the project has failed to take off since 2007 since the first time it was conceptualised. The project has been stuck owing to environmental clearance and villagers of Panju Island over which the sea link passes.
A senior MMRDA official, said, “We are going to approach the forest department for the clearance of mangroves and have also approached the salt commissioner in Delhi. The updated cost of the project is now around Rs 1,000 crore. It is very obvious as there is an escalation of cost on annual basis.” The official further added, “We are currently in the process of preparing an environmental impact assessment report and simultaneously a tree count is also underway to identify the number of trees that will have to be axed.”
However, to recover the project cost, MMRDA is yet to decide whether commuters would be charged the toll or not. “We will construct the sea link and hand it over to the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) for operation and maintenance. It will then be up to them to decide on levying toll for motorists or not. Tenders for construction work will be floated by March 2018,” a MMRDA official said.
Motorists travelling to Naigaon and further down to Vasai, Virar and towards Gujarat can use this sea link.