Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bandra Worli Sealink photos and status check

Last year I'd clicked some photos of the Bandra Worli Sea Link (posted here). Thought I'd do a round-up again.

First up, a one-shot reality check of then and now. This was the progress in April 2007.

BWSL in April 2007
And this is as things stand now in March 2008.

1 BWSL Today

As you can see, the main central tower has seen the most progress. The Bandra side entry road is the same, and one stretch from the Worli side has been added. Bear in mind that last year, disputes between HCC (contractor) and the Government (MSRDC) had stalled work for quite some time. Also remember that a lot of work, in any case, comes to a standstill during the monsoons. So, any guesses if this will be complete by end of this year? I don't think so. April 2009 should be a better estimate.

From what I could see, the issue remains work from the Worli side. Let's take a look...

This is the entrance from the Worli side, and I'm assuming they will widen it, because it doesn't look like an eight-way lane.

Worli Entrance

The next three photos show how little the progress from the Worli side seems (if you compare it to the Bandra side, photos here).

Worli Side 2

Worli Side 3

Worli Long 1

A smiling PWD Minister, who will also be hoping the BWSL is completed next year, so he can flaunt it as an achievement during state elections 2009.

Sign board

Some statistics of the length of the cables

Steel Wires circumf

Steel wires height

The boat seems to be enjoying the view.

Worli Dredge boat

Remember that the BWSL will consist of two main towers - one each on Bandra and Worli. Work on the Worli Tower has just begun, while the Bandra Tower is almost done. The photo below shows work underway on the Worli Tower

Worli Central Tower

And this is the larger, 135metre tall tower on the Bandra side. The cables are being installed and the tower is expected to be ready before monsoons.

Main Central Tower 2

Finally, here's another look at the BWSL as it stands today. For more details and my earlier posts, click on the BWSL tag.

1 BWSL Today

More photos on my Flickr page and the pages of Brajeshwar, Kapil and Preshit -as part of the Bombay Photodrive earlier this week.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Are Mumbai's planners looking at Bangalore?

Sudhir Gota's excellent, detailed and still simple post on Bangalore (link via the sustran group) is a must-read, if only for the photos. While I've visited Bangalore a few times, I've never stayed there. Via blogs, and a couple of friends, I'd heard of the traffic chaos in the green city. I'd assumed it was because of fly-overs and such-like. But there's clearly more to it. Read Sudhir's post to get a sense of how bad urban planning can make life hell for it's residents.

While Bangalore is now facing the consequences of a car-friendly Government urban policy (i.e. priority for roads over rail, buses, etc.), Mumbai has been seeing it for time immemorial. In all the debates and controversies over the Peddar Road Flyover and the Bandra-Worli-Nariman Point Sea Link, not even half the attention has been given to transport systems from the Metro to bus rapid-transport systems.

There's a thought process at work here goes like - more roads = less traffic. Now, I'm not an urban planner, but in Mumbai, 88% of commuters use public transport. So by any logic, any policy that focuses on flyovers and sea-links over rail and bus has to be, at best, questionable.

And yet, for as long back as I can remember, the conventional way of measuring Mumbai's infrastructure progress is by asking how many new roads and flyovers are getting added. Which suits politicians well because roads and flyovers are easier to build and become vote-winning propositions. Yet, I doubt this line of logic is ever going to change.

And yet, any Mumbaikar can tell you that traffic in Mumbai is just going haywire. Sure, that's always been the case, but that's not the point. The development and expansion of the Western and Eastern Express Highways were much-needed relief for the far-flung suburbs. But picture this for a moment - with all the development in Central Mumbai (i.e. Lower Parel and the surrounding Mill Land areas), where are the roads to support them? For all the hype and hoopla, the Bandra Worli Sealink will not really solve the problem because it will offload all the vehicles at Love Grove Junction on one side and the Bandra Reclamation junction on the other. What about dispersal from there?

The issue at the core is much larger than a sealink or a road or a flyover or a Worli, Bandra or whatever. The issue is the thinking. Let me put that in perspective for you. Forty-six years ago, in 1962, our urban planners thought of sealinks to connect the island city to the suburbs. In 1968, the planners thought of underground rail. Till date, nothing has been achieved.

We're in 2008 now. All the phases of the Metro will be functioning anywhere between 2011-2012 (best case). The MUTP should have expanded the rail capacity by then and - hopefully - some kind person would have consented to the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). My guess is with that, we should have taken care of our current requirements.

But here's the thing. Way back in the 70s, something called New Bombay was thought of. A few years back, the Special Economic Zones were mooted by the Ambanis. Till date, nothing meaningul has happened on either front. Almost all of the expansion and development in the last few decades has remained concentrated in Mumbai (with some suburbs like Andheri and Malad opening up to the services sector).

Question - why have we not thought of creating more Mumbai's around Mumbai?

It's that simple really in the end. The more you build, the more they will come. People, cars, etc. Look at how it's wreaking havoc in Bangalore. Our planners probably knew this in the 60s and the 70s. But nothing was done.

I don't think the planners and the politicians can take that same risk now. Else Mumbai 2050 (with a population exceeding Australia and perhaps many other Western countries by then) would make our current Mumbai look like Utopia.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

12th March 1993 - never forget

Blast 1 - 1.28pm - The Bombay Stock Exchange. 84 dead, 217 injured.

Blast 2 - 2.15pm - Narsi Natha Street. 5 dead, 16 injured.

Blast 3 - 2.25pm - Air India Building. 20 dead, 87 injured.

Blast 4 - 2.30pm - Lucky Petrol Pump, Dadar. 4 dead, 50 injured.

Blast 5 - 2.55pm - Century Bazaar. 113 dead, 227 inured.

Blast 6 - 3.05pm - Zaveri Bazaar. 17 dead, 57 injured.

Blast 7 - 3.13pm - Plaza Cinema, Dadar. 10 dead, 37 injured.

Blast 8 - 3.20pm - Sea Rock Hotel, Bandra. No one dead or injured.

Blast 9 - 3.25pm - Juhu Centaur Hotel. 3 injured

Blast 10 - 3.35pm - Airport Centaur Hotel. 2 killed, 8 injured.

"Subsequent police investigations revealed that 257 people were either killed or went missing in the blasts while 713 were injured."

Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused, is still at large.