Travel in Mumbai, India’s acknowledged financial capital, got
a little easier with the opening of the US$330 million Bandra-Worli Sea Link on
the western coast last Tuesday, June 30.
The 5.6km facility, India’s longest bridge and first in
the sub-continent to be built over open sea, connects Bandra and the western
suburbs with Worli and central Mumbai. Both Bandra and Worli are two of the
city’s prominent emerging commercial and leisure hubs.
The new attraction
features eight lanes, with two allocated for buses, and costs INR50 (US$1) one way and INR75 (US$1.55) round trip. Electronic as well as manual payment
systems are available.
Prior to the sea link, Mahim Causeway was the only way
Mumbaikers and visitors could get between these areas. For years, the result
was a huge congestion in this north-southwestern corridor during peak hours. The
new alternative is expected to ease this problem and cut down the commute to
the international airport for business travellers staying in the south Mumbai
in hotels such as the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower by 30 minutes or more. Currently, the journey takes two
hours or longer.
Rising incomes, exploding population, cheaper
cars, insufficient public transport and limited land have contributed to Mumbai
earning a reputation as being in the list of world cities with the worst traffic
Mumbai provides over
one-third of India’s
tax revenues and generates about five percent of the national GDP so any
hindrance to the smooth flow of these factors hammers a large dent into the
The sea link, however, is only a part of a
master plan to respond to the situation. Prominent
politician Sonia Gandhi, who inaugurated the facility, urged a quick start to
the second phase of the project, the bridge between Worli-Haji Ali, also along
the western coast. The Bandra-Worli sea link took nine years to finish, a
victim of bureaucracy.
Margie T Logarta