Mumbai: An 8km long tunnel is being proposed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) through the Western Ghats on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, considered one of the best highways in the country.
The tunnel will not only shorten the journey by at least 30 minutes, but also, importantly, help in avoiding accidents and traffic snarls on the Ghat section.
The tunnel, or even two tunnels, will be constructed from Khopoli to Lonavla cutting through the dangerous hilly section. This is a crucial segment of the route as the six-lane expressway and the old four-lane Pune highway converge at this point where congestion is common and authorities have been unable to widen the narrow road as the union environment ministry has not given permission.
While the plan to construct a tunnel is being hailed by expressway users, the major challenge before MSRDC is to obtain various clearances before embarking on the project that is likely to cost Rs30-40 billion (Dh3.3 billion).
Studies yet to begin
"A pre-feasibility study has yet to be done and MSRDC has to appoint a consultant the scope of whose job includes getting the clearances," A.V. Deodhar, Superintending Engineer, MSRDC, told Gulf News.
Clearances will have to be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, National Highways Authority of India and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways — all of which is expected to take a year. The project may then take four years or so to be completed.