Still a long way

Still a long way

SECOND EDIT

Harried Mumbai commuters or at least a section of them can hope for some respite now that the Bandra-Worli sea link has been inaugurated. The 5.6 km-long sea bridge will provide commuters a less congested alternative route to the currently used Mahim Causeway, which has hitherto been the only link between central Mumbai and its western suburbs. Commuters who opt for the Bandra-Worli sea link will be able to skip nearly two dozen traffic lights which they would have otherwise encountered. But this will not be a free ride. A one-way commute across the bridge will cost a motorist Rs 50. This  Bandra-Worli sea link is a technological marvel and stands testimony to the fact that Indians, when they set their minds to it, are capable of building world-class infrastructure.

However, some have pointed out that the respite the bridge will provide is marginal at best. Around 100,000 motorists are expected to use the sea link daily. This is a small figure considering Mumbai’s multi-million strong commuter population. Critics are also pointing out that a single sea link will not end Mumbai’s traffic jams. Indeed, with the inauguration of this sea link, only one phase of the Western Freeway project, which involves the construction of a string of expressways linking Mumbai’s suburbs to its business hub, has been completed.
If Mumbai and other Indian cities are serious about realising their ambitions of becoming world class cities, they need to do more about their infrastructure. Planning big projects isn’t enough; these should be completed on schedule if cost overruns are to be avoided. This sea link -- sycophants quickly naming it after Rajiv Gandhi for no rhyme or reason -- took 10 years to build, while China completed the 32-km long Donghai bridge connecting mainland Shanghai with the offshore Yangshan deep-water port in three years. While India plods along slowly, China has built roads and bridges at an astonishing pace. It has built ten sea links in eight years. Whether it is Mumbai’s Shanghai dreams or Bangalore’s Singapore ambitions, these will remain unfulfilled if implementation of infrastructure projects moves at a snail’s pace.

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