The Devendra Fadnavis-led government has been working overtime to give Mumbai its due, and India’s financial capital will soon be on par global cities in terms of connectivity, increasing the city’s productivity and quality of life.
Mumbai. Bombay. The city of dreams. Maximum city. These are just a few names for India’s largest city, a city that contributes over 6 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is common knowledge that any city would gain prominence based on the employment opportunities it offers and thus it is no understatement that it is called India’s financial capital not just due to the presence of many financial and banking establishments, stock and commodity exchanges as well as the world’s largest diamond exchange, but also because the city contributes to a third of India’s total income tax collections.
However, for any city to make it big in employment opportunities, it needs to be livable. Investments would never flow into a city that cannot be lived in and if the city becomes unlivable, businesses would flow out. Mumbai’s financial status is a testament to this. However, what if the city was becoming more livable?
Mumbai is doing just that. With massive infrastructure upgrades that will change the standard of living, India’s only Alpha-level global city is set to change majorly.
Rebuilding India’s First Metropolis
The city has changed considerably after it was first inhabited in the 1500s and its prominence and the constant pace of change has ensured that Mumbai of 2018 is not the same as Mumbai of 2008. In the last one decade, the city witnessed numerous changes including infrastructure developments such as the Mumbai Metro, Monorail, the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Eastern Freeway and the new terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
However, the changes that India’s financial capital is now poised for is set to change the face of the city and its satellite cities in a much more prominent manner.
So What Can Mumbaikars Expect?
There are a slew of infrastructure projects that will encourage every former resident of the city come back in the pipeline.
The Mumbai Metro
The Mumbai Metro project, once considered the slowest among Indian cities is today progressing smoothly, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The first line of the Mumbai Metro – the 10.8 km-long Line 1 – took six years to build, a delay that was attributed to the public-private partnership (PPP) model with Reliance Infrastructure that was adopted for the project. However, the real cause of the delay was the inefficiency of the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority (MMRDA) to acquire right-of-way (ROW) as well as delays in building a 1.2 km-long steel bridge across the Western Railway line and a 175 m-long cable-stayed bridge over the Western Express Highway (WEH).
Line 2, originally tendered out on the same PPP model as Line 1 to a consortium led by Reliance Infrastructure in 2009 was cancelled in early 2014. It was realigned after the Fadnavis government split it into two parts –2A and 2B that meet at D N Nagar along Line 1 for better execution – to be executed on the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) model, instead.
Work orders for 2A were issued in late 2016 with J Kumar Infraprojects winning the tender for the entire stretch. As of 2018, piling had crossed over 65 per cent while 40 per cent of the pier have been cast. About 377 girders have been cast of which 205 have been erected atop the pillars out of the total 1,430 girders.
Like Line 1, Line 2 also uses the 25 m-long girder as opposed to the 5 m-long girder traditionally used for metro works.
Word orders for the first package of 2B were awarded earlier this year to Simplex Infrastructure who has begun barricading the road and commenced soil testing.
Once complete, Line 2 will connect Dahisar in the northwest of the city (along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway) to Mandale near Mankhurd in the east of the city (along the Mumbai-Pune Highway) covering a distance of 42.2 km and connecting stations along the Western Line, Central Line, Harbour Line, the Monorail, and the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. 2A is scheduled for completion by late 2019, a deadline that it may meet, but problems with procuring rolling stock may delay its commissioning to 2020. 2B’s alignment that passes along the Juhu Aerodrome is yet to be resolved between the MMRDA and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The third elevated line of the corridor – Line 7 – runs parallel to Line 2 along the WEH. It starts at a common terminus with Line 2 at Dahisar before terminating at the WEH station on Line 1. A 3 km-long underground extension connecting it to Terminal 2 of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was granted approval by the state government recently. Construction on the 16.5 km-long corridor began in April 2017 with work orders being given out as three packages to Simplex, J Kumar and NCC Limited. The line runs along the WEH, for a stretch along the median and along the service lanes for the rest of the route.
Line 3 – Mumbai’s first underground metro project – is a 33 km-long corridor that connects Cuffe Parade in the southern tip of the city to Aarey Milk Colony on the fringes of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park where its depot is coming up. A target of many environmentalists for the alleged destruction of the environment for a “project that won’t be used”, the project’s alignment was finalised by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) in 2013 on the EPC model. Tenders were floated in early 2014 with work orders being assigned in mid-2016 while the contract for the Aarey Depot was awarded in early 2017 along with several allied projects including a few vehicular underpasses.
The line will meet the Western and Central lines at their termini (Churchgate, Mumbai Central and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-CSMT), at Dadar and will meet the Western Line alone at Mahalakshmi where it will also meet the Monorail at is terminus at Jacob Circle.
Three stations – International Airport, Sahar Road, and Domestic Airport – will be funded by the GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL). Although it connects to the airport, the MMRC has said that it is not an Airport Express line like in Delhi but a normal city corridor.
A total of 17 tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be deployed by the five contractors, of which 14 have passed acceptance tests and six have been commissioned. Around 40,000 rings will be cast to form the tunnels for the entire corridor. The L&T-Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company (STEC) joint venture (JV) that is building the stretch from T2 at CSIA to the Aarey Depot announced in March that it had completed casting 1,000 rings.
The Cuffe Parade-Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) section of the corridor is expected to be commissioned by 2020 while the rest of the corridor is expected to be ready by 2021.
The MMRDA is currently evaluating bids for Line 4 that will connect Wadala in southeast Mumbai to Kasarvadavali in Thane.
Expanding The Harbour Line
The Harbour line of the suburban railway connects CSMT in the south to Panvel in Navi Mumbai and Goregaon on the Western Line. Services towards Goregaon began in March this year after a prolonged delay with the line terminating at Andheri till then.
However, the major development along the Harbour Line is at Kurla Station where the Harbour and Central lines meet. The abandoned Platforms 9 and 10 have been demolished to make way for three elevated platforms that will serve the Harbour Line while the existing Platforms 7 and 8 will be repurposed for the expansion of the congested Central line as well as for freight trains that arrive from the Mumbai Port. The elevated structure will begin at the ends of Chunabhatti and Tilak Nagar stations and go over Kurla, thus allowing the freight line that merges with the main line south of Kurla station to join the rest of the network unhindered. The third elevated platform will serve trains terminating at Kurla.
Along with this, the twin Harbour Line within Navi Mumbai is being doubled to four tracks up to CBD Belapur station to make way for the upcoming Belapur-Uran Railway line. The Darave-Seawoods Railway station has been upgraded with a huge commercial complex by L&T as Seawoods Grand Central – a one-of-a-kind transit oriented development (TOD) project.
With Western Railway already plying air-conditioned local trains in the city, the Suburban Lines are set to witness a massive overhaul of their operations.
Bridging The Creek On Both Sides
After being host to India’s first open-sea Cable-Stayed Bridge (the Bandra Worli Sea Link or BWSL), Mumbai will play host to two more open-sea bridges.
The first of these, the northern extension of the BWSL is the Bandra Versova Sea Link. A letter of award (LoA) from the Maharsahtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) was issued in May this year to a consortium led by Reliance Infrastructure and Italy’s Astaldi. At 17 km, the Rs 6,993 crore bridge will be thrice the length of the BWSL and is expected to be commissioned in 60 months. Once complete, it will be the second longest bridge in India.
The second bridge – the Mumbai Trans Habour Link (MTHL) – will see a 22-km-long bridge connecting Sewri on the eastern end of the city to Nhava Sheva near the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust on the mainland. Construction began in April this year after a decade-long delay and soil testing is in progress in the middle of the creek. Of the total length, 16.5 km will pass over open sea and the remaining will be on land.
The Second Airport
The much-delayed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) too is on the fast track with the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) working overtime to clear the land for the project. Around 40 per cent of the villages have been shifted while 40 per cent of the Ulwe Hill has been flattened. Officials are waiting for the monsoons to end to divert the Ulwe River. CIDCO aims to finish levelling the land by 2018 end in order to hand over the project to GVK-led MIAL who is the concessionaire for the project. The airport will feature two parallel runways and will make Mumbai the first city in India to feature two major airports, like London and New York. The MMRDA and CIDCO are looking at the feasibility of a direct Metro line connecting NMIA to CSIA.
Transforming Mumbai Into A Manhattan
Work on almost all the projects had come to a virtual standstill towards the end of 2013. The Devendra Fadnavis-led government has been working overtime to give India’s financial capital its due.
With the highest rail density in India, Mumbai will soon be on par with many a global city in terms of connectivity offered. Better transit networks will increase the city’s productivity and also offer its residents a much better quality of life.