• A look at new infrastructure projects for Mumbaikars in 2017

    On the right track
    Transport projects: AC train
    Will your travel be any smoother in 2017? Let’s hope so. Railway authorities are doing their bit to complete a few of the delayed projects for the city’s 79 lakh suburban rail commuters, starting with the much touted air-conditioned local train.
    The Centre has already approved the procurement of 47 AC rakes of 12 cars each. The success of the AC rake, under trial on Central Railway, will determine the quality and make of the new ones. The fleet will be younger as the new Bombardier trains are expected to become a majority on both Western and Central railways. The process of procuring more rakes is already underway under MUTP-III.
    The much needed augmentation of the rail network is also shaping up. The Harbour line will spread its arms beyond Andheri, going all the way till Goregaon, which will be ready by March. On CR, two additional lines — fifth and sixth — meant for long-distance trains too will be ready by next year-end. These lines will separate the suburban section and remove the bottleneck right till Kalyan from CST completely.
    And lastly, Wi-Fi at railway stations will see a big boost. By the end of 2016, Indian Railways covered 100 stations across India, as it started providing Wi-Fi from Mumbai with 15 stations here having the facility.
    Also, at many stations, the railways is gradually replacing staircases with escalators.
    On the anvil: New termini, bridges, tracks
    There are a few multi-crore projects in the pipeline, which are expected to start from 2017, the most important being the sixth line on the Mumbai Central-Borivli route. It will help the Western Railway to segregate its suburban system. At present, long-distance trains use the fast line and the fifth line for operating long-distance trains.
    Also, there are plans to convert Thane, Panvel and Kalyan stations into termini. It will boost these stations’ capacity to handle more and also provide better connectivity. A new station has been planned on Thane Mental Hospital land, which is part of Thane terminus.
    The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and railways have jointly planned to demolish and reconstruct road and foot overbridges crisscrossing railway lines.
    The process began with British-era Hancock Bridge; bridges of Carnac and Sion-Bandra link road are in the pipeline.
    The road runners
    Attention is being given to road transport as well with the state government in the process of implementing the much awaited City Taxi Rules 2016 to govern taxis, autorickshaws, fleet cabs and mobile aggregators operating across the state. There are 50 lakh-plus passengers using this mode of transport in Mumbai. The guidelines are already in place, which the state government will finalise by mid-2017. More share-taxis and autorickshaw stands too are on the anvil.
    Health: Mazgaon to get city’s second cancer hospital
    After Tata Memorial Hospital, India’s biggest cancer hospital, the city will get another cancer hospital next year, in Mazgaon, specialising in head and neck cancer. It’s going to be a unique partnership between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and five philanthropic organisations, where the treatment will be subsidised, just like it is in Tata. The BMC will hand over its non-functional Abhilyabhai Maternity Hospital to Dr Sultan Pradhan CanCare Charitable Trust for the construction of an 87-bed cancer hospital.
    Besides this, GT hospital will start a cancer ward, as per approval from the state health department, and Kasturba Hospital, which has one of the biggest burn wards among the city’s civic hospitals, will start an isolation ward.
    There’s also good news for those suffering from thalassaemia. Next month, the city will get a first-of-its-kind state-of-the-art centre for patients.
    There will be 24 beds for a day-care centre, and eight for the transplant unit. And, bone marrow transplants will be done for free.
    On July 2, 2015, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner had sanctioned the project on July 2, 2015, while R4.87 crore was sanctioned for the same in the current fiscal (2016-17).
    A space of 25,000 sq ft near R Central in Borivli has been approved for the centre.
    The infra calendar
    Coastal Road: Work to begin in October
    To end the city’s traffic nightmare, the civic body has planned to construct a 29.2-km coastal road. The project has missed one deadline so far, and the BMC now aims to start work in October.
    With more than eight NOCs (No-Objection Certificates) in its kitty from various departments, the civic body is awaiting a nod from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
    The road, which will start from South Mumbai’s Princess Street flyover in Marine Lines and end in Kandivli, is expected to take five years to complete. Along with the road constructed on reclaimed land, a six-km tunnel will also be a part of the Rs 15,094-crore project.
    To speed it up, the civic body has divided it in two phases — Princess Street flyover to Worli and Bandra to Kandivli. At the moment, the BMC is focusing on the first phase as it is only 9.98-km in length.
    Zoo revamp: To be finished soon
    The controversial revamp of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Byculla zoo) is expected to be completed in 2017. Presently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is under fire for bringing Humboldt penguins in the zoo without having their exhibits ready. As part of the revamp, the BMC is going to construct 18 enclosures.Fifty per cent of the work has been completed in the Rs 150-crore project — entrance plaza, 60 pocket gardens and a quarantine section for the penguins. Work on the exhibits is expected to be completed in a month.
    The BMC is also in touch with other Indian zoos for bringing in new animals; it has its eyes on a lion, Bengal tiger, hyena, jackal, bear and some exotic animals, such as the emu.
    It also plans to increase the entry charge for the zoo after the revamp, which has a deadline of 2017-end.
    Goregaon-Mulund Link Road: Work starts this year
    The on-ground work on the fifth link road connecting western and eastern suburbs is expected to start this year. It will ease traffic on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. The project was supposed to start before the end of 2016.
    The BMC has estimated a cost of R1,300 crore for the project. According to the plan, it will construct a tunnel through Sanjay Gandhi National Park, for which a geo-technical survey is going on.
    The project has been divided in three phases — under the first phase, a Nahur road overbridge will be constructed; in the second, widening of General AK Vaidya Marg from Oberoi Mall to Filmcity in Goregaon will be undertaken; and the third phase is when the tunnel work will start.
    Earlier, the GMLR was supposed to pass through Aarey Milk Colony via Bhandup Water Complex connecting to Mulund.
    For this, the BMC had decided to cut 1,200 trees that were coming in the way of the proposed alignment.
    However, after opposition from environmentalists and lack of feasibility, the civic body decided to change the alignment.
    New DP: To come into effect
    The city’s blueprint for the next 20 years (2014-34) is expected to come into effect in early 2017, changing the face of upcoming developments.
    BMC’s draft Development Plan courted controversy for several issues — allowing higher FSI and development on salt pan lands — and invited the ire of citizens and activists. Finally in July, the DP department submitted its revised draft before the commissioner, and was opened for public suggestions and objections.
    In two months, the civic body received more than 80,000 suggestions and objections. Currently, the hearing on suggestions and objections by the planning committee is taking place. The next two steps are discussion on the draft in the corporation, and then, sending it to the state government for final approval.
    Bus lanes: On more routes
    The civic body has finally taken a step towards developing a separate lane for BEST buses. The proposed lanes will be demarcated in Dr E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Keshav Rao Khade Marg, Dr Annie Besant Road and Haji Ali on a pilot basis. If successful, the BMC will explore other routes and areas.
    Also, the BEST, which has been struggling to run its fleet of buses, is expected to introduce a new lot of buses — 300 will come in by January 2017, including buses with forced ventilation, broader windows, mobile-charging points and spacious seats. A new lot of air-conditioned buses too has been proposed. Tyeler Davison Authentic Jersey

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