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The City That Never Sleeps: How Mumbai Is Always Under Construction

The infrastructure projects have been under construction for over a decade in Mumbai. Currently, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis are keen on giving Mumbai iconic structures with a stamp of the modern era.

Underground construction of MIDC metro station of Aqua Line-3 of Mumbai Metro, also known as Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Line
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Since the merger of the Bombay state with Maharashtra and the independence of the state, the city of Mumbai is for the first time undergoing a massive infrastructure overhaul. The gigantic scale of this infrastructure development, simultaneously across the city and its suburban areas in every direction, has made Mumbai a city under constant construction.

Though these infrastructure projects have been under construction for over a decade, the incumbent Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is fast-pacing these projects with an eye on the elections of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) slated to be held early this year. 

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis are keen on giving Mumbai iconic structures with a stamp of the modern era. Most of the iconic structures in Mumbai were built by the British in the pre-Independence era. The major infrastructure projects will support the present suburban rail network, the lifeline of the city used by lakhs of Mumbaikars for their commute. Though this well-connected local rail network has been expanded many times, it now needs support of the ongoing infrastructure projects for effective connectivity with the expanding areas of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). 

With the bludgeoning growth of the services, financial, and technology sectors in Mumbai and the MMR, the current infrastructure boom is critical. A network of expressways, roads, flyovers, and metros will complement the existing suburban railway network and shorten the commute time within Mumbai and the MMR. The major road projects are expected to reduce the congestion presently experienced on the main and arterial roads of Mumbai. The over-burdened Western Expressway will see an alternative in these roads and connect the east-west and the south-west corridors along with some of Mumbai’s far-flung suburbs. It will also improve the connectivity with the micro markets of the satellite towns of Mumbai.  

Shinde has directed the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) to initiate long-term planning for road development projects. MMRDA has been tasked with leading a project which will include the construction of bypasses, flyovers, service roads, and underpasses. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will work jointly to make the roads pothole-free. These two authorities will appoint special officers to deal with potholes. The district collectors and the civic commissioners within the MMR have been directed to extend their cooperation for land acquisition and other related issues.  

On July 16, last year, the incumbent Maharashtra government permitted MMRDA to raise loans up to Rs 60,000 crore for infrastructure projects. A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office had informed that the state government will be the guarantor for the loans.     

With the Maharashtra assembly polls slated for 2024, many of the ongoing infrastructure projects will near completion. The major infrastructure projects include: Mumbai Metro, Navi Mumbai International Airport, Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link, Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Corridor, Mumbai Coastal Road, and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.  
These projects will decongest the roads and reduce the commute to the commercial hubs of Mumbai including Andheri, Bandra Kurla Complex, Lower Parel and Nariman Point. 

Mumbai Metro

On its completion, the Mumbai Metro will have 14 metro lines spanning 350 kms. The total cost of this project is expected to be over Rs 1.4 lakh crores. The metro lines will connect Andheri West, Colaba, Dahisar, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Kalyan, Dombivli, Badlapur, Kanjurmarg etc. These metro lines —whose construction has been accelerated by the incumbent Maharashtra government— upon completion will increase the connectivity within Mumbai and with the city’s suburbs. 

The metro lines will crisscross the city in all directions and serve as a parallel train service to the presently existing suburban train services. The first phase of the project is already operational between Ghatkopar and Versova. To be completed in three phases, this project is expected to be finished by 2025. 

This project when operational will change the face of Mumbai and its satellite metros Thane and Navi Mumbai.   

Navi Mumbai International Airport

Being built in the emerging satellite town of Navi Mumbai by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), this airport will be a boon to those living in the eastern suburbs who now battle the traffic congestion to reach the airports located in the heart of Mumbai. The total cost of this project is expected to be Rs 16,700 crores. The airport will help in the development of the surrounding areas on the lines of the aerotropolis existing in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Dubai is the largest aerotropolis in the world. This greenfield project is being developed at Ulwe-Kopar near Panvel. 

The Maharashtra government is ensuring that this project does not miss its 2023 deadline. The first phase of this project is expected to handle a yearly load 20 million passengers, while the project when completed is likely to handle 90 million passengers annually.  

Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link

This six-lane road will extend 21.8 kms between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and will be India’s longest sea bridge. The bridge will start at Sewri, cross Thane Creek, and wind its way to north of Elephant Island and end at the Chirle village located close to the Nhava Sheva port. This port, the Mumbai-Pune expressway, and the Mumbai-Goa highway will have direct access to the Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link. 

At an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crores, this project is expected to be completed by September 2023. Built in four phases, the ongoing work has been fast-paced and is expected to reduce the travel time between Navi Mumbai and south Mumbai.   

MMRDA —the implementing agency of this project— had awarded contracts for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link in November 2017 and the construction got underway in April 2018. According to the estimates of MMRDA, about 70,000 vehicles will use this bridge every day. 

Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (Bullet Train Corridor)

This 530 km high speed rail route will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad via the bullet train with a commute time of two hours. This bullet train corridor project is expected to cost Rs 1.1 lakh crore and will include the Bandra Kurla Complex, Virar, Thane, Boisor, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Sabarmati, and Ahmedabad on its travel route.

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Though nearly all the land acquisition has been completed by Gujarat for this project, the problem of land acquisition is in Maharashtra. Though the Maharashtra government has set out to fast-track the land acquisition for this project, there are several roadblocks yet to be smoothened. This project is likely to be completed by October 2028.  
Mumbai Coastal Road

This 29.2 km coastal road will be a freeway that will run from Kandivli in northern Mumbai to Marine Lines in south Mumbai. 

This project, expected to cost Rs 12,000 crores, will cut down the travel time between north and south Mumbai. This ongoing project, to be constructed in two phases, will in its first phase run from Princess Street flyover at Marine Lines to the Bandra Kurla Complex. The second phase will see the linking of the Bandra-Versova sea link to the first phase of the project. 

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Expected to be completed by November 2023, this dream project of former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will have cycling paths, a sea promenade, playgrounds, outdoor theatres, and much more along the route.

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor 

This is amongst the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the country. 

Implemented by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC), it will complement the 1,500 kms long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor. This corridor will include 24 industrial regions, eight smart cities, two international airports, two mass rapid transit systems, five power projects, and two logistical hubs. 

The first phase of development will touch eight investment regions, including Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Manesar-Bawal in Haryana, Khushkera-Bhiwandi-Neemrana and Jodhpur-Pali-Marwar in Rajasthan, Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, Ahmedabad-Dholera Special Investment Region in Gujarat, Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Park and Dighi Port Industrial Area in Maharashtra. The estimated cost of this project is Rs 634,858 crores. 

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