Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated India’s longest sea-bridge — the 22-km long Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sewri-Nhava Sheva Atal Setu, or Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, here.
He also became the first person to officially drive across the bridge which rises majestically in the Mumbai harbour areas, linking the Mumbai isle with the mainland.
PM Modi was flanked by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar at the inauguration ceremony that attracted huge local crowd to witness the unveiling of the giant engineering marvel.
The MTHL is considered the most challenging sea bridge project taken up in India and executed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
The bridge is expected to save commuting time from south Mumbai to Panvel (Raigad) from the existing around 120 minutes to barely 20 minutes, leading to a massive saving in fuel costs besides reducing pollution and CO2 hazards.
The MTHL will provide super-smooth connectivity to the Mumbai-Goa Highway, Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the Virar-Raigad corridor, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, the JNPA and MbPA twin ports, and serve as a new gateway to the development of the entire coastal Konkan region.
The bridge is considered an engineering marvel with a total length of 21.8 km, of which 16.5 km runs over the sea and other 5.5 km on land on both sides and elevated approach roads.
“Beyond simply reducing travel time, the bridge enhances our quality of life through the integration of modern and advanced technology. Environmental sustainability, longevity, security, and progress are among the fundamental purposes of this engineering marvel,” the MMRDA said on the inaugural of its biggest showpiece project.
With the opening of the MTHL for regular traffic from January 13, the traffic snarls on both sides of the Mumbai Harbour would be history as vehicles will zip through the bridge in barely 20 minutes without affecting the environment or the Ramesar Site flamingo sanctuary below it.
The high-speed MTHL corridor starts from Sewri in Mumbai to Chirle (island) on the Navi Mumbai side (mainland) to reduce commute time, air pollution, fuel costs and other benefits with a Rs 250 toll per car one-way for the first year, after which it will be reviewed.
It has been constructed of steel using the steel equivalent of 500 Boeing aircraft and weighs 17 times more than the Eiffel Tower of Paris.
Constructed at a cost of over Rs 18,000 crore in seven years, the MTHL becomes the longest sea bridge built in India so far and ranks 12th of its kind in the world, including similar sea-links in China, the US, UAE and Portugal.