'World's most delayed road' opens days before elections in Mumbai

Mumbai: After 10 long years, the 6.5-km Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road was finally thrown open to public in Mumbai today. The road is expected to cut commuting time between the two areas from nearly an hour to just ten minutes. (116 candidates in fray for six Mumbai Lok Sabha seats)

The project, which has already earned the embarrassing tag of being the 'world's most delayed road project', will provide crucial east-west connectivity in a linear city like Mumbai.

The road, which was due to open in 2004, has missed several deadlines. While the initial cost of the project was Rs. 115 crore, it now stands at a whopping Rs. 435 crore. (Mumbai: Over 68,000 poll personnel employed for six Lok Sabha seats)

The road has a four-lane double-decker flyover, the first-of-its-kind in India. The project was delayed due to problems in rehabilitating a huge number of people and delay in construction of a bridge over the railway tracks in Kurla.

The road is being thrown open just a week before elections in Mumbai as this is a major infrastructure project and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government wants to reap electoral benefits. (Rallies in full swing in Mumbai ahead of final leg of polls)

The opening comes after the government inaugurated other major infrastructure projects like the new terminal at Mumbai airport, the Sahar Elevated Corridor, the Eastern Freeway and the Mumbai Monorail.

The Opposition has alleged that these projects have seen delays due to the government's inefficiency and are being thrown open right ahead of elections as pre-poll stunts. Apart from infrastructure projects, the state government also increased the cut-off date for legalisation of slums as pre-poll sop. (Full Coverage: Elections)

Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar told NDTV, "Obviously, this is a political gimmick. The Congress has done this only to get the vote of the people and this is their political intention. Whether it will benefit  the Congress, I don't think so. It is purely political gain and we have complained about the same to the Election Commission."

But Sachin Sawant, spokesperson for the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, defended his party by saying, "It is definitely an achievement from our side. It adds to our satisfaction and it is not related to the polls. If it is ready, why should we stop its opening for the election? It is not an election agenda." (Opinion poll: Massive gains for BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra)

No politician was present for the opening as the model code of conduct is currently in force.

According to sources, the road was ready a few days ago but the government wanted to throw it open just before elections in Mumbai. This morning, the new road was still getting finishing touches even as traffic started plying on it.
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