After a decade of back and forth revisions, BMC finally received a green flag for its most controversial project, the Versova Madh bridge. After facing all the difficulties in this project, BMC decided to hire a consultant to handle all the legal and clearance issues.
In March 2021, BMC finalized a consultant to handle all the clearance and documentation for its other projects in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
Versova Madh bridge was one of the most awaited projects for the citizens of Mumbai. Despite the unavoidable need for this project, the bridge faced numerous issues in its planning years.
Need of Versova Madh island bridge
Madh is clearly visible from the Versova coast, but it takes a 22 km detour to reach there. A ferry ride takes 5 minutes to cover the distance, whereas, going to Madh via Kandivali link road takes about 1.5 hours.
As of now, the ferry ride is the fastest way to travel to Madh. However, a ferry ride is not the safest way of traveling. Also, people with vehicles face a lot of difficulty in ferry rides.
Versova Madh island bridge can shorten the distance from 22 km to 2 km.
This connecting bridge will also benefit the prospect of real estate on Madh Island. Currently, there is no proper infrastructure in Madh because of its poor real estate value.
The Versova madh bridge was proposed in 1991 by BMC. The opposition of local residents delayed the project for 18 years.
After resolving all the land acquisition issues, BMC started its construction in 2009. However, the construction came to a halt as soon as the environment ministry stepped in.
The involvement of the state environment impact assessment authority, Maharashtra coastal zone authority, Forest department, and the Bombay high court, ceased the project for another decade.
Versova madh bridge received environmental clearance in 2013 and the project was cleared in 2014. Even after the clearance, the project was not approved by the state government for the next three years.
Finally, in 2019, the Versova bridge project received its final clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.
Over 10 years, there were some significant modifications in the original layout of the project. Now, the Versova madh island bridge follows a new alignment to get around the coastal settlements. This detour increased the length of the bridge by 300 meters.
Whenever a project is located in a residential area or a place that affects the livelihood, the project is bound to face a lot of difficulties before getting clearance.
Even after clearing its land acquisition issue in 2009, Versova madh bridge had to overcome many obstacles in the last 10 years.
Ferry workers fear that the construction of the Versova madh bridge will end the 57 years old ferry service. People with vehicles will surely pick the Versova bridge as it is a faster and safer route.
To address the situation, BMC assured employment to all the ferry workers in Versova. This step worked in favor of the ferry workers as well as BMC.
As soon as the bridge is functional, ferry service will become a leisure activity rather than a necessity.
Initially, the Versova madh bridge was a direct bridge that landed on the coastal settlements. Locals were against the bridge that will barge into their houses.
BMC failed to negotiate with the residents, therefore, the bridge was detoured and extended to connect with the link road.
Forest and mangroves
The extended bridge to avert the settlements runs through mangroves, the new layout dragged the environment ministry and forest department into the matter.
These authorities gave a green flag after the assessment of the environmental impact of the bridge.
Another main victim of this overbridge was the group of fishermen who lived in the coastal areas. The construction of a bridge can hinder their houses as well as their livelihood.
Their issues were resolved after the bridge was extended to avoid the Versova coast.
It will boost the Madh island real estate
Madh island never grabbed the attention of builders. This place was a cheap getaway from the crowd of Mumbai. The absence of a direct link to the city impacts the value of the land.
Realtors always eye on land that has potential growth as an infrastructure. A place that is not easily reachable, will never bring forth profits for the builder as well as the realtor.
After the construction of the bridge, the madh island will be a direct part of the city. In the upcoming years, Madh island real estate will see substantial growth.
There is no proper infrastructure in Madh, therefore, builders can start from scratch. This is a perfect opportunity to remodel the place. Madh island real estate can be the new real estate hub in Mumbai city.
After getting clearance from all the authorities, the construction of the Versova Madh bridge started in 2019. After the extension of 300 meters in the original design, the construction will take longer than before.
BMC is planning to complete and inaugurate the bridge by the end of 2022. A bridge that waited for more than 25 years will take one more year to open for the citizens of Mumbai.
Versova madh bridge is the answer to all the hardships faced by the people of Mumbai. Thousands of people use the ferry to go to madh island and vice versa. Every time they step onto the ferry, they are putting their life at risk. This makes the bridge a much-needed facility in the western suburbs of Mumbai.