Santa Cruz–Chembur Link Road

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Santa Cruz–Chembur Link Road (SCLR)
Route information
Maintained by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
Length: 6.45 km (4.01 mi)
Existed: 18 April 2014 – present
Major junctions
West end: Western Express Highway, Santacruz
  CST Road in Santacruz (East)
LBS Marg in Kurla (West)
East end: Eastern Express Highway,
Chembur
Location
States: Maharashtra
Districts: Mumbai Suburban
Major cities: Mumbai
Highway system

The Santa Cruz–Chembur Link Road, shortened to SCLR, is a 6.45 km long arterial road in Mumbai, connecting the Western Express Highway (WEH) in Santa Cruz with the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) in Chembur.[1][2] It contains the city's first and India's second double-decker flyover.[3] The six-lane road was constructed as part of the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) at a cost of INR454 crore (US$74 million).[4] The World Bank withdrew funding midway through the project due to repeated delays, and the second phase was financed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) with its own funds.

Although the groundwork for the link road was originally planned to commence in September 2003, it began only in 2007. The SCLR was severely delayed, taking more than 11 years for the work to be completed. The project missed 12 deadlines since the original deadline of November 2004. The delay in the project was primarily due to rehabilitation and resettlement related works. The SCLR was termed an "engineering marvel" by the National Geographic Society,[5][6] and was described by the World Bank as the "world's most delayed road project".[7][8]

A portion of the SCLR, the 560 m KurlaKalina flyover over LBS Marg, was opened to the public on 10 August 2012. The SCLR was opened to the public on 18 April 2014. The maximum speed limit for all vehicles is 30 kilometres per hour (19 mph) Halting or parking of vehicles on the entire stretch of SCLR is prohibited. Entry is prohibited for pedestrians, heavy vehicles (except any bus carrying passengers), all types of bicycles, tricycles and auto tricycles used by the disabled, all types of animal carts and hand-pulled carts.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Transportation and traffic planning for Greater Bombay (now Greater Mumbai) was commissioned to Wilbur Smith and Associates in mid-1962. The firm's report, based on extensive studies conducted over 18 months, was handed over to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on 19 December 1963. Among other projects, the report proposed the construction of several link roads to improve east-west road connectivity in the city. Among the projects proposed was a 4-lane road linking Santacruz in the west with Chembur in the east.[9]

In 2002, the Government of Maharashtra, the Indian Railways and the MMRDA, with financial assistance from the World Bank, decided to undertake the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) to find a long term solution to city's transport and communication issues.[10] Mumbai, being a vertical city geographically, has resulted in rail and road connectivity being concentrated along the north-south route. After a population explosion and subsequent growth of the suburbs, the authorities realised that the city's east-west connectivity had been mostly ignored with weak road links and only a handful of bridges to cross over the rail lines.[11] The MUTP identified a number of subprojects to strengthen the suburban rail and road transport in Greater Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) as a whole. As a part of the MUTP, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and the BMC undertook the construction of the Santa Cruz–Chembur Link Road (SCLR) linking the Western Express Highway (WEH) and the Eastern Express Highway (EEH). The SCLR, along with the widening and improvement of the Jogeshwari – Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), was one of two east-west road corridor projects implemented under the first phase of the MUTP,[12] and were intended to ease commutation problems and act as links between Mumbai's Eastern and Western Suburbs.[13]

Prior to the SCLR's opening, commuters traveling from the Western Suburbs towards the Eastern Suburbs or Navi Mumbai had to take the JVLR, the Andheri-Kurla Road or a detour from Sion to reach Chembur. During peak hours, this would take 90 minutes to 2 hours. After the SCLR opened, travel time between Santacruz and Chembur reduced to 17 minutes. The SCLR is an important arterial road connecting the Western and Eastern Express Highways. The SCLR is expected to significantly decongest the EEH and the WEH, and ease traffic congestion at the Amar Mahal Junction, Vakola, Kalanagar Junction, Sion and Kurla.[7][14][15] It will also decrease traffic congestion on roads in Santacruz, Kalanagar, Dharavi, Sion and Chembur.[16] The Times of India reported that commuters can save INR50-60 on auto rickshaw and taxi fares (at April 2014 rates) when traveling between the Eastern and Western Suburbs via the SCLR. Prior to its opening commuters would have had to take a longer route via Dharavi and Sion. A commuter going to Vakola in the western suburb of Santa Cruz from the eastern suburb of Mulund via the earlier route, would have to travel a distance of least 23 km. The SCLR would reduce the distance by 4–5 km and time by 30 minutes.[17]

Land acquisition and rehabilitation[edit]

The total area required for Phase I of the project was 47,856 square metres, of which 11,090 square metres was private land which was acquired in 1987 by using the land acquisition process. There were no outstanding compensation payments related to this land acquisition. However, the possession of the land had not been taken due to encroachments. The balance land of 36,766 square metres belonged to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the BMC, the Indian Railways and the Kurla Dairy. Since the alignment for the SCLR was included in the development plan, a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) from the BMC was obtained. Government land measuring 10,705.51 square metres belonging to the MHADA, the BMC, the Railways, and the Kurla Dairy, was transferred for use in the project. However, additional acquisition of private land was necessary to implement the project, and approximately 1091.90 square metres of private land was acquired for the same.[12]

The total land required for Phase II of the project for up to 45.7 m width of ROW was 1,34,358 sq m. Out of which the 88,200 sq. m of the land for the existing 30 m width of ROW was acquired by the Public Works Department (PWD) and handed over to the BMC. Between 30-45.7 m width of ROW, 46,158 sq. m land was required, of which, about 5,596 sq.m of land was in the possession of the BMC (2,047 sq. m.) and the government (3,549 sq m). Land acquisition for the SCLR project was carried out by the BMC. As a result of Phase II of the project, a total 434 structures were affected out of which 235 were residential, 193 commercial and 6 residential-cum-commercial. In addition to this there were 5 other structures affected which consisted of one balwadi, one newspaper library, one post office, a structure on private land, and one Bank.[18]

The census and socio-economic surveys to establish the baseline characteristics of people affected by Phase I of the project, were carried out during 1998 to collect baseline information. The additional socio-economic data survey was carried out in October 2002. Data collection and preparation of documentation was started in 1997, and a Baseline Socio-Economic Survey (BSES) was prepared for 2171 structures. The alignment of SCLR changed later, and new hutments were covered. The supplementary BSES was prepared in 2002. Again, changes in the alignment took place resulting in some families being excluded and new ones included. A consolidated BSES for the SCLR was prepared in March 2003, but there were changes in alignment after that date. Hence, an updated BSES was prepared in December 2004, which supersedes all the earlier tabulations and was treated as the cut-off date.[12]

Subsequent to the BSES of December 2004, a total of 3021 structures out of which 2472 are residential, 524 commercial and 25 residential-cum-commercial structures were shown as impacted by the execution of the SCLR for a width up to 45.7 metres in the Resettlement Implementation Plan (RIP) of September 2005. Subsequently, during the site clearance an additional 127 structures were found to be impacted of which 103 are residential, 16 are commercial and 8 are residential plus commercial. A total of 23 religious structures/community properties were identified as affected in the RIP of September 2005. These included 7 temples, 1 church, 1 Masjid, 1 Gurudwara, 6 Madrasa, 3 balwadis, 2 political party offices, 1 worker’s centre and 1 committee office. Subsequently, 1 madarasa was identified as commercial establishment; one Temple, one Party office & one Health Centre were found to be beyond alignment. One temple and one balwadi were shifted to Ghatkopar and Hiranandani-Mankhurd sites respectively. The remaining 17 religious/community structures were also shifted eventually.[12]

Therefore, after the revision of the BSES of December 2004, a total of 3167 structures would be impacted—2575 residential, 540 commercial, 33 residential-cum-commercial, and 19 community/religious structures. As of 30 April 2006, a total of 2591 structures had been resettled—2418 residential, 145 commercial, 26 residential-cum-commercial, and 2 religious/community structures. Apart from this, an additional 754 structures will be affected by the final alignment for a 45.7 metre width road. This includes 492 tenements of 20 MHADA buildings and 262 encroached slums in the areas of Sable Nagar, Shanta Jog Marg, Rahul Nagar and Nehru Nagar. Taking all the PAHs into account, the a total of 3921 structures were impacted by the project (Residential-3329, Commercial-540, Residential-plus-commercial-33, community structures-10, religious structures-9).[12]

The RIP was prepared to ensure that people affected by the project would be allotted adequate infrastructure facilities and economic incentives to improve their living standards during the post resettlement period. The overall responsibility for implementing the RIP was entrusted to the MMRDA, who was tasked with co-ordinating with all other agencies, and overseeing the delivery of entitlements to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs). The Project Affected Households (PAHs) losing residential units were offered tenements of 225 sq ft each at any MUTP R&R site (mostly Mankhurd). Relocation to MUIP R&R sites was also allowed, if any PAH was willing to shift to any such site on his/her own, aware of difference in quality of post-resettlement support provided.[12]

For the resettlement of commercial PAHs, the Government of Maharashtra drew up an action plan to address the encroacher shopkeepers' concerns regarding relocation. The five-resettlement options were formulated to address needs of the shopkeepers with unique spatial needs who may lose over 225 sq ft of shop area. The negotiation with eligible commercial PAPs was initiated for identifying option and facilitating early relocation to R&R sites. The procedure that was adopted for negotiations with commercial PAPs for offer of various options was outlined in the RIP. MMRDA provided for the payment of one year's income as onetime assistance to those employees affected by the project who are not re-employed, through the Government of Maharashtra's R&R Policy,. The MMRDA scrutinized and processed such cases for assistance as and when formal requests are received from such employees. The one-year income to be offered to employees was determined by the valuation committee composition described in the policy. The employees were also issued identity cards prior to their displacement.[12]

The draft Baseline Socio-Economic Survey (BSES) for SCLR phase-II was prepared in February 2004, and was treated as the cut-off date. The project affected persons (PAPs) losing their residential and commercial structures were resettled at a resettlement site in Mankhurd, which is about 7 km from the location of affected structures at SCLR phase-II. The Mankhurd resettlement site having a total of 3256 residential tenements and 720 commercial tenements was selected for resettlement of people affected by the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP), and the surplus tenements were used for resettlement of residential and commercial structures affected by SCLR phase-II. As there was a shortage of tenements for resettlement of PAPs at the Mankhurd MUTP site, the PAHs affected by SCLR phase-II, were resettled at the Mankhurd MUIP site.[18]

Construction[edit]

SCLR location map.
The SCLR under construction in Amar Mahal.
The SCLR under construction in Amar Mahal.

The SCLR was commissioned in 2003 under the World Bank-funded MUTP, and was originally scheduled to be completed by November 2004.[7] The SCLR and JVLR projects were initially entrusted to the Public Works Department (PWD) for implementation as per World Bank guidelines. Later on, these works were entrusted to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for implementation as per World Bank guidelines, and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was appointed as the nodal agency.[13] The SCLR project was implemented in two phases. The first phase was executed by the MSRDC and the second phase was executed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Phase I comprises the 3.45 km long section[12] from the east end of the 6-lane Mithi River Bridge up to the Amar Mahal Junction of the Eastern Express Highway (Ch.0+000 to 3+400).[11] Phase II consists of the 3 km section from the WEH to the Mithi River.[12] Phase I was funded by the World Bank, while Phase II was financed by the MMRDA with its own funds.[19]

Phase I of the project consists of widening of existing road from Mithi River up to LBS Road (0.650 km), construction of flyover (0.250 km), construction of new link (1.706 km) and a ROB (0.420 km) over Central Railway tracks at northern Kurla.[18] Out of the 3.45 km of Phase I, about 1 km runs on existing alignment and the remaining 2.45 km is virgin/new alignment.[18] Phase I was divided into two sections for execution purpose. The 2.00 km Section 1 included construction of a road from Ch. 0+000 to 1+335 and Ch. 2+775 to Ch. 3+400 and surrounding junction improvement.[11] Section 1 of Phase I consists of two non-contiguous portions: from Mithi River to Middle Income Group (MIG) area (1.3 km); and from MHADA to Amar Mahal Junction (0.6 km).[19] The 1.40 km Section 2 consists of the RoB and viaduct portion from Ch. 1+335 to Ch. 2+775, including the Nehru Nagar Arm.[11] Section 2 of Phase I lies between the two parts of Section I, within the overall 3.45 km length.[19] Section 1 and 2 were contracted to Patel Engineering Ltd and Gammon India Ltd. respectively. The Louis Berger Group Inc. served as Project Management Consultants for both sections.[11] The civil works contract for Section 1 was signed on 29 September 2003, and awarded for an amount under NCB of INR33.81 crore (US$7.514 million).[19]

The scope of work undertaken as a part of Section 1 and 2 is listed below:

Section 1
  • Construction of 6-lane concrete road with 3 m wide foot path on either side with central divider
  • Construction of 6-lane, 527 m long flyover across LBS Marg junction, with 7.5 m wide service road and 3 m wide foot path on either side at grade
  • Replacement of existing steel bridge on old Agra Road with new one (all on Santacruz side i.e. from Ch. 0+000 to 1+335– East end of Mithi River Bridge to start of ramp of ROB across Central Railway tracks)
  • Road from Ch. 2 + 775 to 3 + 400 (from end of ramp of viaduct to Amar Mahal junction on EEH) on Amar Mahal side
  • Construction of one vehicular Subway near Amar Mahal junction, construction of junctions at Amar Mahal (at grade) with EEH and S.G.Barve Marg
  • Improvement of junctions on surrounding road network
  • The work also involves shifting and relocation of underground and over ground utility services like water mains, electric cables, telephone lines, TATA H.T Pylon etc.[11]
Section 2
  • Long viaduct with solid ramp in Reinforced Earth wall (R.E.wall) for 350 metres on Santacruz side
  • Road Over Bridge (ROB) across Central Line at first floor level and further two level viaduct close to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.
  • Solid ramp in R.E.wall for 363 metres at first floor level and for 456 metres at second floor level
  • Short viaduct – cum – ROB on harbour line of Central Railway with a junction to main viaduct at first floor level for access to Nehru Nagar through the property of Kurla Dairy and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Arm as approach to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.
  • Solid ramp R.E.wall for 104 metres for Nehru Nagar arm (Total length of ROB and viaduct including ramps is 1.40 km).[11]

Construction of the SCLR was contracted to Patel Engineering Ltd and Gammon India Ltd. for INR35 crore and INR79.9 crore respectively. Gammon was awarded nearly 75% of the total civil work on the project.[20] The Louis Berger Group Inc. served as Project Management Consultants.[11] The notices to proceed with work (or work orders) for section 1 and 2 were issued on 29 September 2003 and 10 May 2004.[11] However, the project was severely delayed, primarily due to rehabilitation and resettlement related works.[16] Officials claim that actual work on the project began only in 2007 as the World Bank had suspended its loan for some time.[6][21] The MMRDA later hiked the values of both contracts by 15% to keep up with cost escalation caused by delays. Patel Engineering briefly halted construction on the project for several months in 2011, asking for another hike in contract value. The MMRDA agreed to hike both contract values by 30-35%, and Patel Engineering resumed work in January 2012. The contract value was reportedly revised as some column designs had changed since the last revision leading to an increase in quantities of construction materials, apart from the increase in the cost of mobilising machinery and manpower. As of April 2011, Gammon had already spent INR113.1 crore,[20] while Louis Berger had reportedly spent nearly five times the original amount.[22]

As per the originally agreed approach, the MMRDA had submitted a Resettlement Implementation Plan (RIP) for a planned road width of 39 metres in early 2003, which was approved by the World Bank in March 2003. However, it was later decided to widen the SCLR to 45.7 metres as specified for roads of this type in the Mumbai Urban Development Plan. This was communicated to the World Bank in March 2004.[12] The rationale for the proposed widening was to benefit from the economies of current construction, prevent future encroachments and avoid a future widening that would affect the same people twice.[19] Accordingly the Baseline Socio-Economic Survey (BSES) for the impact of a 45.7 metres wide road was undertaken, and the updated RIP was prepared in September 2004 and reviewed by the World Bank. The Bank identified that the RIP should include a certified copy of the final alignment in order to freeze the likely impacts, and that the corresponding BSES needed to be finalized. In anticipation of the finalization of the RIP, the Environmental Management Plan was submitted for the 45.7 m width and approved by the Bank vide its communication dated December 2005. A copy of the approved alignment for the SCLR prepared by the BMC, was submitted to the World Bank in February 2006 along with the RIP for the SCLR submitted earlier.[12]

The finalization of the RIP was delayed due to difficulties in completing the public consultations and the BSES in certain sections, and reaching an agreement with the PAPs. As a follow up, the World Bank Team visited Mumbai from 21–23 February 2006, and agreed to prepare and implement section wise RIP for a width of 45.7 m in order to speed up the resettlement work and commence the construction work prior to the onset of monsoon. As per understanding arrived at during the Bank Mission in April 2006, the RIP consolidating R&R measures for all 9 sections was prepared. Based on this updated BSES, the RIP report for the SCLR was updated to include the PAPs affected between 30–39 m to 47.5 m width of the alignment. This RIP presented the consolidated resettlement plans for the 30-39m as well as the additional 15.7-6.7m strips which ultimately measured up to the 45.7 m width.[12]

Other work[edit]

In September 2013, the MMRDA invited agencies to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for three proposed bridges to complement and regulate the flow of traffic from the SCLR.[23] The first flyover is planned from Bandra-Kurla Link Road to CST Junction in Kurla, and the second will be from Mumbai University junction in Kalina to CST Road. The bridges were not part of the original plan of the SCLR, but the MMRDA felt that the traffic congestion on CST Road would increase once the SCLR was completed, and that the flyovers were required to regulate traffic and provide direct connectivity from BKC to SCLR.[24] The third DPR concerns the remodelling of the existing CST Bridge. After remodelling, the 40m long and 30m wide bridge would be 100m long and will 45m wide.[25][26]

Delay[edit]

Although, the groundwork for the link road was originally planned to commence in September 2003, it began only in 2007.[7][8] The SCLR was severely delayed, taking more than 11 years for the work to be completed.[27] The project missed 12 deadlines since the original deadline of November 2004. Following this, 11 other deadlines have been fixed and missed for the project: September 2006, December 2008, December 2009, June 2010, June and December 2011, December 2012, March 2013, October 2013, December 2013 and 31 March 2014.[7][8] The cost of constructing the SCLR was originally estimated as INR114.96 crore in 2003. This was revised to INR254.76 crore in August 2011. According to the reply from the MMRDA to a Right to Information (RTI) request filed by RTI activist Anil Galgali, the latest estimated project cost is INR454 crore (US$74 million), an escalation of 391.30%.[16]

The delay in the project was primarily due to rehabilitation and resettlement related works.[16] Around 3,500 people, as well as residents of 350 MHADA tenements, who were displaced by the SCLR were rehabilitated.[28] The World Bank initially provided assistance by way of loans to finance the project, but withdrew due to constant delays in completing the project.[16] The World Bank blamed the massive delay on the lack of clarity of roles of MMRDA and MSRDC, delay in design approvals and the lack of co-ordination with railway authorities.[4] In 2010, when the World Bank was funding the project, Roberto Zagha, the India head of the financial institution, referred to SCLR as the "world's most delayed road project".[7][8] An MMRDA official defended the delay in the project stating, "It was huge project ... We had to resettle more than 3,500 project-affected people. There were also issues will relocation of a religious structure, and a politician's interference, too, did not help. It is easy to lay the blame, but the work was challenging. We also had to face several court cases. We have learnt many lessons from this project."[29]

A major delay occurred in getting clearance from Central Railway (CR) to construct a 50.9-metre bridge over the Central Line. Despite receiving the request in 2007, CR took 5 years and asked for 4 changes in design before finally approving construction in July 2012. The approval came with the rider that MMRDA could only start construction in October 2012, after the monsoon.[30] A railway official defended CR stating, "MMRDA blamed us for the delay. But the design of the road overbridge across the tracks was such that it would not have got the commissioner of railway safety's approval. The consultants should have thought about this long ago. We had also given blanket approval to launch girders more than a year ago. But the girder-launching work was carried out six months ago as they did not arrive from Punjab at the site, where, too, no preparations were made."[29] The MMRDA also faced challenges launching the 14 girders, each weighing 140 tonne, as they could only carry out work for 3 hours at night to avoid affecting rail traffic. All girders were launched in 21 days.[31] According to Jitendra Gupta of the Citizens' Transport Committee, "There is no accountability and coordination among the government agencies involved. We had met the railway chief engineer in charge of the project around four years ago and were told that he had 200 proposals like the SCLR to examine because of his wide jurisdiction. He said he couldn't make an exception for the SCLR and speed up clearances."[32]

Opening[edit]

A portion of the SCLR, the 560 m Kurla-Kalina flyover over LBS Marg, was opened to the public on 10 August 2012.[33]

According to the reply from the MMRDA on 24 March 2014 to an RTI request filed by RTI activist Anil Galgali, construction work on the SCLR was complete on the sections from the Mithi river to Ghazinagar, Kurla (W), and from Ghazinagar, Kurla (W) to Rahul Nagar, Tilak Nagar. However, the section from Rahul Nagar to Eastern Express Highway via Amar Mahal flyover was incomplete. MMRDA Executive Engineer M.A. Wani, in his reply to the RTI, stated that the construction of steel members of an S-shaped girder at the fag end of the SCLR near the Amar Mahal flyover was incomplete. The MMRDA admitted that it had changed the specification of the girder, and decided to have the S-shaped girder in steel rather than in concrete. The work was expected to be ready by 31 January 2014. The decision was approved by executive committee of MMRDA in its meeting held on 11 January 2012.[27][28]

On 2 April 2014, Mid Day reported that that the civil work of the SCLR was 100% complete, and only the final touches remained, such as painting the dividers and the lines on the sides of the road. The paper quoted "a senior MMRDA official" as stating, "We can complete this [the finishing touches] in just a couple of days. But we have been asked not to hurry, and only make sure the work is completed within the next week, so that the SCLR can be thrown open to the public in the second or third week of April." The paper quoted another MMRDA official as stating, "The Congress-NCP government now wants MMRDA, which is headed by the Congress, to throw open several infrastructural projects in Mumbai just before the [2014 general] elections. Many representatives of political parties from the areas around SCLR have been calling us up, and asking us when are we opening the SCLR. Some even tell us that it should be opened just a week before Election Day [24 April 2014], so that voters know what kind of developmental work the government has done."[7][8] The MMRDA issued a press note on 13 April stating that the SCLR was complete, and the Amar Mahal flyover which handles the dispersal on the Chembur end of the link road, was scheduled to be completed the same week[34][35] Bitumen work was pending at the Chembur end, apart from which streetlights had also not been installed on the entire length of road.[36] The approach road to the landing at Nehru Nagar had also not been completed, and road medians were still being placed at the Chembur end.[37] The authority decided to open both the projects simultaneously to avoid any traffic bottlenecks between SCLR and Amar Mahal junction.[34][35][38] However, there could be no official inauguration due to the code of conduct being in force for the 2014 general elections.[39][40] The Opposition alleged that the project saw delays due to the government's "inefficiency" and was being opened ahead of elections as a "pre-poll stunt".[41] Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party President Ashish Shelar wrote a letter to the Election Commission on 14 April, calling the SCLR opening a "publicity stunt" and opposing the inauguration stating that the Congress party would "reap undue credit for it". He further accused the state government of being in a hurry to inaugurate the project just days before the election, despite the fact that it took over a decade to complete.[42][43] RTI activist G.R. Vora stated that the inauguration just prior to voting was "highly suspect" and demanded that the Election Commission take suo motu cognizance of the matter. Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) activist Shyama Kulkarni stated that the SCLR was delayed inordinately, and found it "surprising" that the "much-needed flyover was inaugurated so close to the election".[44]

The media reported that some motorists used the SCLR on 15 April, even though it had not been officially opened. The Times of India reported that it had found the access points in Kurla (W), Dairy Road in Kurla (E), Tilak Nagar and near LTT open when it visited the road on the aforementioned date. However, the exit points in the opposite direction were barricaded, and workers were seen marking lanes and completing the civil work on dividers and beneath the flyover on the road adjacent to the piers. The paper quoted an employee of the contractor stating that the access points had been kept open to allow MMRDA employees to inspect the SCLR on bikes and cars, apart from enabling the passage heavy vehicles that transport material. The MMRDA barricaded the exit points after it became aware of the unauthorized vehicle movement.[37] DNA reported that the traffic on the road was mostly made up of bikers and private cars, but no taxis, autos or other heavy vehicles were seen on the road.[45]

The SCLR was inaugurated by MMRDA officials at 8:15 am IST on 18 April 2014, by breaking 11 coconuts (the project had been delayed by 11 years) and burning incense sticks.[31] Unlike most projects in India, the SCLR was opened without fanfare, and no politicians were present at the opening, as the code of conduct for the 2014 general elections was in force at the time.[46][47][48] The MMRDA quickly completed the ceremony and opened the road to traffic. Even as the SCLR was being inaugurated, workers were still giving finishing touches such as laying tiles on the pavement and fixing up the shoulders of the road beneath the flyover portion at Tilak Nagar and Halav Pul. Motorists complained about dust in the air near Tilak Nagar, as the workers had not swept the cement from the surface.[31] Traffic was sparse on opening day, which officials believe was because it was a public holiday due to Good Friday.[49] Several motorists were reportedly seen asking for directions, which the Mumbai Traffic Police blamed on inadequate signage directing towards the SCLR.[50] MMRDA officials installed additional signboards by 21 April, but they failed to improve the situation due to their small size.[51]

According to then DCP (traffic) Pratap Dighovkar, about 22,000 vehicles used the SCLR on opening day.[52] Traffic remained skeletal on the second day as well.[53] More than 50,000 vehicles used the road on the third day.[54] Motorists criticized a lack of proper planning for the SCLR, citing a couple of speedbreakers near the flyover, which reduce the speed of oncoming traffic and cause further jams. They also complained that there was no proper traffic management near the junction that connects the SCLR to the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). Commuters also felt that the road surface had to be smoothened for a better ride. Increased traffic caused jams on the third day, mainly due to a Congress election rally at BKC.[55] On 28 April, a Monday, the first working day since the road opened,[56] an estimated 55,000-60,000 vehicles travelled on the SCLR. Heavy congestion was reported on certain stretched of the road, particularly on Hans Bhugra and Mohammad Raza Road junctions in Santa Cruz (E). Mumbai Traffic Police officers stated that Mohammad Raza Road needed to be widened as it was the main cause of traffic on SCLR.[57][58]

Joint commissioner of traffic B.K. Upadhyay blamed the MMRDA for jams on the SCLR. He also blamed the BMC and the MMRDA for opening the SCLR without completing the road widening work.[59] The Citizen Transport Forum had carried out an audit of the SCLR on the third day after opening, and identified 7 major bottlenecks along the road.[60][61] Upadhyay told Mumbai Mirror on 29 April that all 7 issues could be resolved with measures such as road-widening and new traffic signals. However, Upadhyay stated that the bottleneck at Mohammed Raza Chowk, where traffic from BKC Road and the SCLR merge, was an eighth problem and accounted for 90% of the jams. He felt that the situation could be improved by installing traffic signals at the junction, but even that would not resolve the entire problem.[62]

The first accident on the SCLR occurred at 9:30 am on 23 April, a few kilometers from Amar Mahal, when a Maruti Baleno coming from Chembur, collided with a Maruti Omni moving ahead of it after the latter applied the brakes suddenly. Four people, including the driver of the sedan, and three of the eight passengers in the Omni were injured in the incident.[63][64] BEST began operating buses on the SCLR for the first time from 2 May 2014.[65] The authority re-routed bus 374 LTD (from Anushakti Nagar to Goregaon West) and AS-5 (from BKC telephone exchange to Thane junction), and started a new route number C-55 (from Bandra West bus station to Vashi station).[66][67]

Route description[edit]

The SCLR is 6.45 km long and 45.7 metres wide.[10] The SCLR has a total of three flyovers on its route,[49] namely, CST Road flyover (the main flyover spanning a total length of 3.45 km),[68][69] the 560 metre Kurla-Kalina flyover above LBS Marg and the double-decker flyover (combined length of 1.8 km) crossing over the Central and Harbour Line tracks at Tilak Nagar.[46][69][70] The SCLR also has two arms—one for Lokmaniya Tilak Terminus and the other one for Kurla Dairy.[10] The 1096 metre long Amar Mahal junction flyover connects the SCLR with the EEH.[71] The flyover is 17 metres wide. The S-shaped steel girder is 92 metres long and 8.5 metres in width, and its actual cost is INR59.51-76.41 crore.[27] CST Road, Amar Mahal Junction, Nehru Nagar and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus are the four locations for access and entry points. The top deck caters to traffic between Amar Mahal junction and Vakola junction, while the lower deck provides connectivity between Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Kurla Diary in Nehru Nagar from Kalina.[72][73][74]

There are a total of six-seven signals on the entire road, which were installed based on the suggestions of the Mumbai Traffic Police.[31] The maximum speed limit for all vehicles is 30 km/h on all bridges of the SCLR. Halting or parking of vehicles on the entire stretch of SCLR is prohibited. Entry is prohibited for pedestrians, heavy vehicles (except any bus carrying passengers), all types of bicycles, tricycles and auto tricycles used by the disabled, all types of animal carts and hand-pulled cards on the SCLR from Chedda nagar, Mother Dairy at Nehru Nagar in Kurla (East), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus as well as from sleep roads connecting the SCLR to Amar Mahal junction and Shanta Jog Marg.[75]

The SCLR begins at Dr. Hans Bhugra junction on the Western Express Highway in Santacruz (East), and runs to the east skirting the Vidyanagari Campus (University of Mumbai at Kalina) on its south.[11][76] It then crosses the bridge over the Mithi River on CST road, and the alignment follows CST road up to the junction at LBS Marg. The road then follows S.G. Barve Marg up to 100 metres west of the steel bridge on the old Mumbai Agra road. Thereafter the alignment deviates towards the left side near Buddha Mandir. It runs over a new alignment to cross the Central Line about 1 km north of Kurla railway station over a viaduct (RoB), and passes adjacent to the south-west end of Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT).[12] After crossing Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, the SCLR runs parallel to the Harbour Line before meeting the EEH at the Amar Mahal junction in Chembur.[50] From LTT, the SCLR passes between the MHADA quarters and crosses the Tansa pipeline beyond Tilak Nagar railway station. After crossing the pipeline, the alignment splits into 3 arms - 2 arms on the north side of the EEH and 1 arm on south side adjacent to the Chembur flyover[12] - forming a double decker flyover. The top deck of the four-armed flyover is dedicated to traffic between the EEH at Amar Mahal junction and the WEH at Vakola junction via Kurla and Kalina. The lower deck is for vehicles going to LTT, Kurla Dairy (towards Chunabhatti, Suman Nagar) besides Amar Mahal and Vakola. The elevated arm towards WEH via Kurla crosses the Central Line while the arm towards Kurla Dairy crosses the Harbour Line at LTT.[77] Commuters can take the Vakola junction road to reach the upper level of the double-decker flyover to reach the EEH directly with the help of Amar Mahal Junction flyover.[12] They can take the lower level of the flyover and turn right to reach Kurla railway station or turn left to reach the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.[12] The lower level flyover also has footpaths for commuters to cross over from Kurla station to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and vice versa.[40] The road terminates at the Amar Mahal junction.[12]

Alignment of Nehru Nagar–LTT link road

The total length of this alignment is about 1.2 km. It starts from S.G. Barve Marg (East) at a junction located about 100 m away from Kurla railway station (East). It overlaps with the existing 4-lane Kurla Dairy road up to the dairy entrance (Km 0+360). It traverses through dairy vacant premises for about 300 m cross Kurla-Panvel Harbour Line at Km 0+660 and joins the SCLR at Km 0+825 in front of LTT and further runs on the Ghatkopar–Amar Mahal Junction Road to provide access to Kurla Terminus. The overlapping length of this link road on the Ghatkopar–Amar Mahal Junction Road is about 375 m (1+200 minus 0+825). The junction of the SCLR and this alignment at Km 0+825 is at an elevated level providing a vertical clearance of about 6.525 m from the ground.[12]

Stretch[12] Length (km) Details of existing road Details of road constructed for SCLR
Phase I (3.45 km section from Mithi River to EEH)
Mithi River–LBS Marg 0.650 4-lane concrete road 10-lane concrete road + Flyover + Slip roads
LBS Marg–Old Agra road 0.250 4-lane (intermediate) concrete Flyover + slip roads (4 Lane + 6 Lane)
Old Agra Road–Buddha Colony 0.205 2-lane concrete road 10 lane concrete + replacement of existing steel bridge
Buddha Colony–LTT 1.095 Virgin Land 6 lane concrete road + 6 lane RoB + Viaduct
LTT–Tansa Pipeline 0.300 2-lane road Viaduct
Tansa Pipeline–Rahul Nagar 0.650 Virgin Land Viaduct + 6 lane concrete road
Rahul Nagar–Amar Mahal junction 0.300 One side carriageway 10-lane split carriageway
LTT Arm
S.G. Barve Marg junction–Kurla Dairy 0.380 4 lane road 4lane + footpath + median
Kurla Dairy–LTT junction 0.420 Virgin land 4 lane ROB + approaches
Phase II (3 km section from the WEH to the Mithi River)

Junctions[edit]

There are four important road junctions on the corridor viz. LBS Marg junction, S.G. Barve Marg (West) junction, LTT junction and Amar Mahal junction.[12]

LBS Marg Junction

The LBS Marg junction is 4-legged. CST road from university side and S. G. Barve Marg from Kurla Station (W) side joins LBS Marg at Chainage 0+650. Both CST and S.G. Barve roads which form part of SCLR are concrete roads. CST road is a 4-lane divided carriageway and S.G.Barve road is a 2-lane single carriageway except at junction portion for about 150–200 m length from the junction towards Kurla side. The traffic on CST and S.G. Barve road is mainly inter-city and intersects with a mixture of through and inter-city traffic on LBS Marg. The SCLR after its construction is expected to significantly contribute to traffic inflow into junction and which will cause traffic delays. To ease off this congested traffic delays and to facilitate through and hindrance free movement, the 560 metre Kurla-Kalina flyover was constructed with service roads at this junction.[12] The LBS Marg flyover was opened in August 2012.

S.G. Barve Marg (W) Junction

The location of this proposed junction on SCLR is at Chainage 1+000 where the 6-lane SCLR deviates from S.G. Barve Marg (W) to traverse on its own virgin alignment forming a 3 legged junction. Presently S.G. Barve Marg is 2-lane concrete road at this location. This junction will facilitate traffic exchange from Kurla (W) to SCLR and will help to share the traffic load at LBS Junction.[12]

LTT Junction
The Double decker Flyover at the LTT Junction

The Nehru Nagar link from Kurla (E) forms this junction with SCLR in front of L.T. Terminus at Chainage 2+200. The approaches of main line ROB of SCLR and Harbour Line RoB of Nehru Nagar link join at an elevation of about 4.5m above ground to form this Junction. The proximity of the Harbour lLine (about 120 m) and future expansion in front of LTT yard does not allow this proposed junction formation on ground. This junction will mainly serve the terminus bound traffic from SCLR and Kurla East.[12]

Amar Mahal Junction

The SCLR terminates at the 4-legged Amar Mahal junction.[12] This junction connects 5 major roads with the Eastern Express Highway and heavy traffic flow is witnessed through the area every day.[38][78] The Amar Mahal junction is formed by the roads coming from Ghatkopar, R.C. Marg in Chembur, and the EEH in Thane and Sion. To facilitate exchange of traffic between SCLR and the aforementioned roads at the junction, the 6 lane SCLR splits into two parts before meeting Amar Mahal Junction. The 3-lane left carriageway meant for SCLR traffic outflow meets Ghatkopar road on west side of EEH. The 3-lane right carriageway meant for SCLR traffic inflow again shifts of which 2 lanes pass through existing subway of EEH and one lane on regraded down ramp of EEH. The disturbed down ramp of EEH goes above this 1-lane of right carriageway and runs along with it to the end at Ghatkopar road.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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