A stretch of Marine Drive being levelled in Sonari on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Tata Steel has formally begun work on its ambitious Rs 120-crore Western Corridor project on the Marine Drive designed to make the stretch worthy of its rather grand name and protect low-lying areas from floods.
The mega project, which started on Monday and is likely to be wrapped up in 18 months or so, will see the steel major constructing a new 9.5km circular road along the Kharkai and Subernerekha rivers, replacing the existing cratered and battered stretch.
Tata Steel officials confirmed the levelling of the Sonari-end of Marine Drive had started while that on its Kadma-end would start in a day or two.
Once levelled, the construction work will kick off from near Adityapur toll bridge on one side and near the Tisco water filtration plant, close to Mango bridge, on the other.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Wednesday, a senior officer of Tata Steel’s logistics department said they had started groundwork for construction after some slum-dwellers — earlier opposing the move — decided to co-operate with them.
“Resistance of encroachers along the stretch was one of the main reasons why we could not launch the project. But now, slum-dwellers are not hostile,” he said.
According to plans, the proposed road will be one-way and 14m wide — spacious enough for two heavy vehicles side-by-side.
There’s more. “We have also decided to raise the height of Marine Drive by two or four feet to save the low-lying areas of the city from flooding,” the officer said.
Prabhat Sharma, head of Tata Steel corporate affairs and communication, also said they were looking forward to the makeover in one-and-half years.
Once done, Marine Drive will look like one of those before-and-after advertisements.
The present stretch, which connects Adityapur Toll Brige to Mango via Kadma and Sonari, is in a shambles.
Commuters go through a harrowing time, curse the stretch for its craters and frequent mishaps. The much-touted road, which acts as a connector between the Adityapur industrial area and Mango, took a beating once the toll bridge was made operational in July 2011. The road was found too delicate for heavy vehicles.
Once the makeover is complete, Tata Steel officials believe Marine Drive will be strong enough for heavy vehicles.
At least 2,000 trucks take the stretch daily. Numbers are likely to increase after revamp.
For residents too, the revamp plan is cause for cheer.
Dinesh Sharma, a resident of Roopnagar bustee along the stretch, heaved a sigh of relief. “I wish work is completed on the stretch within deadline. Areas along the Marine Drive are starting to emerge as vibrant business zones. Hence, a new road will help,” Sharma said.