Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bandra Worli Sea Link – a critique

Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) mirrors India. Its stands for our aspirations, to be world class and to enjoy the best of amenities and infrastructure. To take up challenges and to be counted amongst the best.

The BWSL is a 6 km project, starting at the Mahim Interchange and going all the way upto Worli Sea Face. It consists of 2 cable stayed spans, the one at Bandra end, a massive single tower supported span of approx 600 mtrs and the one at the Worli end a span of approx 350 mtrs held by two smaller towers. State of the art technology is being used in the construction of this bridge and even the giant Asian Hercules crane was called up to serve duty. After completion, it will be amongst the bigger cable stayed bridges in Asia.

It is slated to cut travel time between Bandra and Worli from present day 40 minutes, to about 10 minutes and also save us motorist a lot of fuel.

It also brings out our shortcoming as a nation.

China constructed a much bigger cable stayed bridge, the Sutong bridge, over the Yangste river. The total length of this bridge is over 8 kms., its main cable stayed spans over 1 km, and there are also 5-6 other smaller side spans. Construction started in June 2003 and the bridge was opened for public use in May2008 and was officially inaugurated later in June 2008.

BWSL construction is over 8 years old and counting, why? – The plans and designs were changed a lot of times. The link was pushed further away into open sea by half a kilometer (Environment issues I guess) and the landing moved from Worli village to Worli seaface (villagers’ protests?), surely adding a km to its length. This has resulted in delays and cost escalation from Rs. 400 crores to Rs. 1,600 crores and counting. Thus, the project has been embroiled in various issues such as logistical, environmental clearance and public interest litigation leading to its delay and subsequent cost escalation.

BWSL as seen from the existing road, is an 8 lane twin carriageway, but one can see only one 4 lane carriageway landing at Worli sea face. The second one, I guess, is a continuation bridge that will go upto Haji Ali and may apparently not be used till Worli - Haji Ali Sea Link is completed (say 10-15 years at minimum!)

BWSL is just one part of the larger Western Island Freeway connecting Bandra to Nariman Point and is being planned since the ‘60’s!

A fly-over came up at present day Priyadarshini Park (over nothing) since the original freeway was to land at present day Priyadarshini Park and pass under the fly-over. This happed at least 30 years ago!! I don’t remember seeing a flat road where the fly-over is now, but my mother assures me it was flat before the “fly-over” (over what??) came up at PDP.

Lack of planning, lack of clarity of thought and lack of political will has resulted in mine, yours and a lot of other tax payers hard earned money going down the drain.

So guys, pull up your socks and tell those politicos to their backsides moving. We just happen to be in that 2 month window which appears every five years when they actually listen to us.

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